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Two St. John Roads Getting Overhaul

At the Gifft Hill Road groundbreaking, from left: Gov. John deJongh Jr., Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls and Eddie deLagarde of the delegate's office. Drivers on St. John can expect delays as Route 104 and the North Shore Road get an overhaul. To add to the motoring problems, work on the Cruz Bay roundabout could continue until August 2010.

Government officials held a groundbreaking ceremony Monday near the Westin Resort and Villas to outline the Route 104 project. It covers 2.8 miles of the road, also called Gifft Hill Road in some sections and South Side Road in others. The reconstruction runs from near E&C gas station in Pine Peace east and north to the intersection with Centerline Road at Susannaberg.

Robert Schierloh, president of the St. Croix-based V.I. Paving, said his company will start work on Route 104 this week. It will take six to eight months.

"It will cause disruption," Gov. John deJongh added. "I hope people won’t get too mad at Public Works, because it’s all for the betterment of the community."

The V.I. National Park is in charge of the North Shore Road project. Acting Superintendent Elba Richardson said it begins by the park’s maintenance yard near Mongoose Junction shopping center and will continue east along the North Shore Road and up King Hill Road to Centerline Road. The contractor, Island Roads, started with the signs Monday, with the heavier work beginning next week, she said. Island Roads has a year to finish the project.

"Build in a little extra time," Richardson advised motorists.

The roundabout project, which began in August 2008, is expected to wrap up in August 2010, Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls said.

The Route 104 project includes road reconstruction, pavement overlaying, guard rails, new signs and other improvements. The water crossing near the groundbreaking site will get significant improvements, Smalls said. The area often floods.

Similar work will be done on the North Shore Road, Richardson said. She expects the road improvement to last 10 to 15 years.

The Route 104 project will be paid for with nearly $4 million in federal stimulus funds.

"We are in the midst of an economic crisis," Smalls said. "This is a significant investment in our future."

The North Shore Road project will cost $8.1 million in federal funds, Richardson said.

According to Smalls, the territorial government had to obligate 50 percent of its stimulus funding within 120 days of receiving the money, but the government has projects lined up for 100 percent of the $18 million in funds. The money will be spent over the next two years, the governor said.

The Route 104 project meets the goals of the Stimulus Funds program, deJongh said.

"It’s a local contractor," deJongh said, later adding that local people are employed in the project. "It’s exactly what President Obama was looking for."

DeJongh pointed out that the Route 104 project was the first to start under the stimulus funding received by the territory. Ground will break in October on projects on St. Thomas and St. Croix, he said.

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