May 20, 2004 – Red Hook is a step closer to getting its 8,000-square-foot passenger terminal with ticket counters, concession areas, restrooms and waiting area.
The Federal Highway Administration has given approval to Island Roads, a local construction firm, as the project contractor. The V.I. Port Authority had chosen Island Roads in April. Approval was necessary from the FHWA because federal funds are involved in the $8 million dollar project.
"The Port Authority is pleased with this latest development with this extremely necessary project, and construction should start within the next sixty days," Darlan Brin, the authority's executive director, said in a press release.
The release continued, "The planned facility will result in the efficient movement of passenger, freight and automobiles between the islands of St. Thomas and St. John."
This terminal will be situated on a dock, which will accommodate four vessels simultaneously. The two-berth existing dock will remain in place. A separate berthing facility for cargo vessels will be constructed east of the passenger terminal. The parking lot is being expanded to include approximately 150 parking spaces,
According to a second press release from V.I. Port Authority, also on Wednesday, the building of a commercial port at Enighed Pond, started in April of last year and predicted to be finished in July of this year, has a problem.
Brin is quoted as saying that "the Enighed Pond Marine Facility Project has been temporarily halted. The holding container (dyke) at the pond is full, and dredging has stopped until a decision is reached as to where the material will be disposed." VIPA has several options, said Brin, and the Authority is currently deciding which option is most feasible and inexpensive.
Brin added that the project is about 65 percent completed, and that a majority of the bulkhead construction is finished. This includes the apron, cleats, fenders and ramps. "What basically remains to be completed are the mitigation area as outlined by the federal government as a condition of the construction permit, preparing the land area adjacent to the dock for cargo operations, the completion of the access road to the facility and the remainder of the dredging," said Brin.
The project has been on the books since 1971. The commercial port is intended to reduce traffic congestion in Cruz Bay, particularly in the Creek area. Currently, all cargo comes in through the Creek. When the new commercial port is completed, all cargo activities will shift to Enighed Pond.
A third project discussed at the Authority meeting on Tuesday was the Crown Bay Cruise Ship Facility project. It is not on schedule, said Brin. Groundbreaking for that project, more than two decades in the making, was in June of last year. Officials estimated then the dock expansion and shopping development would be completed in June of this year.
A press release from Port Authority Wednesday stated, "The construction of the pier is not on schedule, the north berth is already completed but the south berth will not be finished until late July. The commercial center construction is also behind schedule at least one and one-half months. Brin said he has met with the project contractor, American Bridge Company, and devised a new construction schedule for completion of the commercial center. "Rather than try to have all the buildings up at the same time, we will work on completing the buildings that already have the sides erected as soon as possible," Brin said. American Bridge Co., an Orlando, Fla., construction firm, commenced construction in January 2003.
The Crown Bay dock was 200 feet long on one side and 500 feet on the other. It is being expanded to a length of more than 900 feet on both sides. This will allow some of the largest cruise vessels to berth there.
According to a report in the Source last year, the development will total about 57,000 square feet and will sit on six acres. Occupying some 3,500 square feet will be a combined visitor center and "environmental/historical interpretive resources center" to be operated by the Tourism and Planning and Natural Resources Departments.
The Port Authority plans to lease 60 percent of the available commercial space to businesses serving local residents and the other 40 percent to businesses serving visitors. The design plans call for a village-type setting with West Indian architecture, a waterfront promenade and the replica of a sugar mill. The commercial mix is to include a variety of restaurants, a communications center and a crew-service facility. There will be off-street parking at the site.
St. John Custom facility
The improvement of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Facility on St. John was also discussed at Tuesday's board meeting. VIPA is improving the facility to accommodate an increase in users of the facility. Brin reported that the project began in April, and that there had been no significant problems to date. VIPA expects all improvements to be completed by August.
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