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HomeNewsArchivesResidents Sound Off About Gravel Trucks on Route 63

Residents Sound Off About Gravel Trucks on Route 63

Aug. 2, 2007 — Residents living north of Frederiksted squared off with gravel producers and truckers at a town meeting at St. Gerald's Hall Wednesday, accusing them of causing the road to deteriorate and creating unsafe conditions for weekend beach goers.
The residents complained about heavy trucks carrying gravel from Hams Bluff to Hovensa. They said the trucks are overloaded, exceed the speed limit, create potholes and noise pollution by blasting their horns, damage the road and create hazards to pedestrians and other drivers. The trucks haul gravel from Aggregate, a rock quarry in the Hams Bluff area. The quarry is owned by Frederiksted businesswoman Ann Abramson.
About 60 people attended the town meeting, called by Carol and Owen Johnson. The couple lives on Route 63, also know as Hams Bluff Road. Before the meeting, about 90 area residents signed a petition to stop or curtail the passage of the trucks. During the meeting, tempers flared as people on each side tried to have their say.
At one point Johnson suggested the trucks go on scheduled runs, shut down after 4 p.m. and not run on weekends.
"This is a business we are trying to do,” Abramson responded. “The truckers get a decent salary. There is only one road. I will never agree with any set hours to work."
Spratt Hall resident Mary Scribner, who owns Turtle's Deli, expressed concern about the recklessness of the drivers. She asked whose child will get hurt before someone takes action.
Some charged that the trucks leave the quarry overweight. But quarry Operations Manager Roger Bressie said all the vehicles are weighed before they leave the area. The trucks are owned by independent businessmen and the quarry is not responsible for the way they drive outside the plant, Bressie said.
Patrick Vivot, owner of Vivot Construction, said his company operates most of the trucks hauling gravel along the road. He said he is just trying to "make a buck."
"Yes there are some wild apples,” he said, referring to drivers who speed. “We have to weed them out. I do know some drivers were driving recklessly."
Vivot said he issued memos to his drivers and had to fire four of them. Part of the problem in the community is that the quarry was dormant for a long time and now the increased traffic has disturbed the residents’ "peaceful life," he said.
The opposing sides came to a middle ground at the end of the meeting with input from the V.I. Police Department, Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls and Assistant Commissioner Roberto Cintron.
Police Chief Thomas Hannah and Traffic Commander Sgt. Charles Orange said they would police the road more diligently to make sure speeders — both truckers and other drivers — slow down. The Motor Carrier Division will be deployed to weigh trucks suspected of overloading.
Hannah also cautioned parents whose children congregate on the roadside by the beaches on the weekends that their children's safety is their responsibility.
Smalls and Cintron pledged to repair the potholes and cut back the roadside bushes. Since their understaffed department is busy clearing guts and culverts in preparation for hurricane season, it may take some time, they said.
"All we can ask is that you be patient," Cintron said. "We are looking into it."
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