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Commuters' Wishes Coming True on a Street Near You

Jan. 6, 2008 — Some holiday wishes take a little longer to get answered, and the V.I. Department of Public Works is granting a bunch with its list of road repairs for the first quarter of 2009.
The projects are in various states of completion, with some not yet advertised for bids, but all are funded with local or Federal Highway Administration (FHA) funds. Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls declined to give budgetary figures associated with the projects.
Starting on St. John, the roundabout in Cruz Bay is in the middle of its first phase, according to Smalls.
On St. Thomas, Hurricane Omar's damage to the collapsed roadway in Savan has brought disruption to through traffic since mid October. Many commuters used the route to go from the north side into downtown Charlotte Amalie, according to Orlando Creque, who works in the area.
"If you forget it's there, it's an inconvenience, and you have to go around to Garden Street to get to work, or have to go back up by Pilgrim Terrace," Creque said.
The storm undermined the base under the roadway, damaging a retaining wall, according to Smalls.
Repairs to the road will be permanent and funded by the FHA, Smalls said. Construction will start in the first quarter, and Smalls anticipates minimal additional disruption to traffic over and above the existing conditions.
A face lift is in the works for Brookman Road at the Polyberg intersection headed eastbound toward the Domino service station and Barbel Plaza, including resurfacing and repair, funded also through the FHA.
Raphune Hill commuters will also get some relief from the bottleneck at the intersection in front of Wheatley Plaza. The department tried to purchase the plaza side of the roadway to contend with a stone wall there that forced traffic into one lane, Smalls said, but eventually purchased land on the other side of the road, enabling a widening of the road and relief for those in the left turn lane to Long Bay Road.
More respite for North Side commuters who use Scott Free as a route to get to town will be performed in phases on the hillside route. The phased approach will minimize traffic disruption, but cost also was a factor in being able to complete the project on any other basis, Smalls said.
Taxi drivers and tourists alike will benefit from planned interim repairs to the Coki Point Road. Water crossing the road creates a persistent problem. The entire water table extends to Cassi Hill, and a flood-mitigation plan will be required for a longterm solution, Smalls said.
Coki Point is the only route to Coral World, and carries considerable tourist traffic via taxi.
"The Coki Point Road is a disaster, and has negatively affected Coral World's business," said Trudie Prior, president and general manager of the park.
Over the years, taxi drivers have threatened not to bring visitors because of potential damage to their vehicles, Prior said.
"Beyond that, it presents a danger to pedestrians and individual vehicles because of the enormous potholes that will soon blend together to form a tank trap," Prior said. "This has been an ongoing problem, and the fixes have been short-term, and ultimately we need a longterm solution."
Smalls says it is his intent that this locally funded project be the last interim repair before development of a longterm solution that takes into account the water table, the proximity to sea level and other aspects.
The asphalt currently in use is not the best material for a wet area, Smalls conceded, indicating he is determined to make a more secure passage there.
The department is considering a multitude of engineering options, including bridges, box culverts and the creation of additional structures upstream from the road that will redirect the water and prevent it from flooding the roadway.
On St. Croix, Scenic Road Phase One is the most major of the department's projects, Smalls said.
"We have a lot of residences along that road," he said. "This is the first of many phases."
The project will begin at the Salt River end of the Scenic Road and will complete various phases heading westward. The initial phase encompasses about 6,000 feet of road.
Monies for this project come from the FHA and the project is going out for bid this quarter, Smalls said.
"It is a matter of preparing a public advertisement at this point," he said.
The department will review bids for permanent repairs to Williams Delight in January.
This is a major project using local funds, Smalls said, with the work expected to take about a year. He anticipates releasing the project advertisement for bid next week, with bids due mid month, and awarding the project by the end of January.
"This is a residential area and we will have to work within the community to minimize disruption," Smalls said.
Public Works will advise motorists of the specific dates for projects by both print and radio public-service announcements.
For a complete list of the department's projects slated for this quarter, click here.
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