If you have driven Centerline Road between Cruz Bay and Coral Bay, you might have noticed a few “bumps” in the road. While these bumps might not be a massive inconvenience in a rental car, they definitely have taken a toll on the lives of “island cars” over the years since Hurricane Irma. Well, we can soon kiss these detrimental dents in the concrete good bye in as soon as three months. Because yesterday a roadway project began that will mill and pave the road between Pastory and The Triangle in Coral Bay, according to St. John Island Administrator Shikima Jones-Sprauve.
Yesterday afternoon, a release from the Department of Public Works hit the press about a project beginning on Centerline Road. I looked closer at it this morning and was unable to draw many details from the release about the eight mile plus stretch of “highway” that connects the two towns of St. John. So, I excitedly called Shikima in hopes of gathering further information about the upcoming road closures and construction. And, as always, she was gracious with sharing the details about what to expect in the coming months.
First, I want to explain this scrape and overlay process versus a full road repair. Federal and local funding for these projects is released in bits and pieces. When the territory receives those funds, our government only has a certain amount of time to use them before it is pulled. The Federal government then reviews the work that has been done and releases more funding. A full road repair (think about the work that has been done in front of Starfish Market) would require digging, gravel, concrete, etc. With the current funds allocated, only a small portion of the road would be addressed. Also, keep in mind the WAPA underground project. Phase three incorporates Centerline Road and would require demolition of parts of the roadway. Think about how the roads are currently looking in town after the pass of Phase 1 (Shikima assured me that the repair of these roads is in the WAPA contract). However, to dump a ton of funding into one area of road that is just going to be dug up again in 2023-2024 doesn’t really make sense, correct?
So, the crews started mobilizing yesterday in the Pastory area and are currently marking the roads to prepare for the scrape and overlay job that will address the horrible road conditions on Centerline at TEN different locations between Cruz Bay and Coral Bay. This work is the same type of project that was done on the Adrian Stretch (straightaway near Estate Cathrineberg) a few years ago. If a few choice areas on Centerline look anything like that smooth stretch of road over the course of the next few months, I’ll be stoked!
The Adrian Stretch, post construction – December 2020
So, this is what we should expect over the next three to four months:
Road crews on Centerline, beginning in Pastory (close to Cruz Bay) and working towards Coral Bay.
Traffic lights for one lane roads as work is being conducted.
Delays due to the construction (PROGRESS).
A few words of caution from our lovely island administrator. First, USE CAUTION on the roadways. Any setbacks could push this project further into the future and Shikima DID admit to me that she may have thrown a bit of a tantrum to get us moved up the list and get this project started! 🙂 Let’s all work together to keep this project moving smoothly AND to take care of the hard working teams on the road ways.
Second, these unavoidable traffic lights operate on sensors. If that sensor gets thrown off because someone runs a red light,etc., someone from ST. THOMAS has to come over with the proper equipment to reset it. Translation: More delays. So, if you are heading to the barge or the beach or work or a meeting, plan ahead and be patient. Shikima told me that this project has been a topic of discussion for 30 years and we are finally seeing movement! And, in roughly three months, we should be gleefully experiencing a stress free commute between Cruz Bay and Coral Bay 🙂