Good Morning, Good Morning! After spending the entire weekend at home, catching up on projects and unpacking from weeks on Asante, I finally took an hour yesterday to drive around and check out the beautiful new blacktop on the streets of Cruz Bay and the progress on the Centerline Road repairs. I am pleased to report that no more will we be driving over pot holes and metal plates in Cruz Bay that shake our already shuddering island rides. No more do we need to maneuver around craters on (most of) Centerline Road. As of this weekend, we see amazing progress on our roads on St. John.
As we all know, the beaches of St. John are breathtaking. The trails, the sunsets, the beach bars…They are all fantastic. But, these road repairs are something to REALLY get excited about! Do you know how many of my friends have had to put a vehicle to rest over the years due to suspension issues? Dozens. All likely due to the hazardous road conditions ALL OVER St. John. But, today, we raise a glass (of motor oil?). To our Island Administrator, Shikima Jones-Sprauve, to the hard working road crews, to WAPA (yes, you read that right 🙂 ) and to our little island rides…May they live a longer and less rickety life due to the recent improvements to the roadways on St. John.
Now, to those of you who have never been here, never driven here or driven here infrequently…You might not understand what a HUGE deal this is! The roads on island were not in great condition prior to Irma. But after? EEK! What took so long you ask? Well, MANY of these projects are utilizing Federal funding from the 2017 storms that is JUST now coming through. The stormwater runoff project that was happening in front of Marketplace this winter and the WAPA underground project are both examples of projects laying in wait until funding from Irma and Maria came through. And both scopes of work required the contractor to restore the roads after the work was done. And now…LOOK AT US GO (literally)!
First, let’s take a look at those roads in Cruz Bay. If you have visited since November of 2021, you have witnessed the tearing apart of the already narrow and impassable roads in town. Well, that was all a part of the aforementioned WAPA underground project in order for the power company to place our power lines underground as a resiliency tactic in the event of another disaster.
We have all been staring at the riddled roadways in wonder…Will they fix them or are they just going to leave them like that until the entirety of the island wide project is done. Well, as they wrapped up Phase One of the three phases of the project, they made the roadways in town look beautifully blacktopped and unrecognizable over this past weekend!
The next phase of the project will start soon and occur between Starfish Market and the Westin. I spoke with Shikima yesterday and she warned me that we could, unfortunately, once again expect delays and a traffic light at the narrow stretch of South Shore road leading from town towards Great Cruz Bay. However, after seeing the progress in town, I’m all for patience and perseverance from those of us who are in it for the long haul.
The third phase of the project will take place on Centerline Road from town to the Myrah Keating Clinic and it may be several years before the start and completion of the third and final phase of the underground project. Which leads me to the current “repairs” on Centerline Road.
According to Shikima, the actual Centerline repairs are finished, with the exception of some structural repairs and line painting. And now, with the funding they have left, she has pushed the crews towards Love City Mini Mart from the Triangle in Coral Bay. And, it’s looking like they are actually going to make it a bit past the incredibly bumpy section of road at the Coral Bay dumpsters! Incredible news 🙂
Now, I want to mention a few things about this. We have previously talked about government funding coming in at a trickle. Get the work done, get the work reviewed, get more money to do more work. With that AND the upcoming WAPA work on Centerline in mind, Shikima, Department of Public Works and the other powers that be decided to grade and mill (not permanent structural repairs) ten sections of Centerline between Cruz Bay and Coral Bay in order to stretch those dollars for the greater and more immediate good.
So, while you may still hit some bumpy patches on our major “highway,” those will only make you more grateful for those beautiful stretches of blacktop you’ll glide on in between. Once the WAPA work is completed in the years to come, other Centerline projects may be on the forefront. But, in the meantime, let’s all be grateful for these incredible improvements that Governor Bryan and our beautiful Island Administrator have implemented on St. John recently. In ten years here, I’ve never seen progress like this. And…That is beautiful.
I took a little video yesterday to show you all the transitions between the different areas of Centerline. At the beginning is the Adrian stretch which underwent repairs similar to what we are seeing now on the rest of Centerline back in 2020. So that is what we can expect in a few years from now. The second phase of the video is one of the sections of Centerline not on the docket for this current project. And, the third, at about minute marker two, is that shiny, smooth, blacktop that you can expect for the majority of the eight plus mile drive between Cruz Bay and Coral Bay.
Real quick, before you watch, keep in mind that there are still crews on the roads working on marking and painting the lines and assessing internal structural repairs to the roads. So, drive cautiously and keep an eye out for the hard working men and women who are beautifying our roads…And saving our suspensions 🙂