Roundabout plans – worse before it gets better

Robert O’Connor, owner of the Texaco gas station in Cruz Bay, said there’s going to be a "mess" while the VI government builds a roundabout to move traffic through the intersection where his Texaco station has been for decades.

At a public information meeting last Thursday, the St. John Source reported officials said a contractor for the job may be selected this fall.  The roadwork is expected to begin next February.  It will last two years. How about that, sports fans?

Now get this … the reason for doing the job has changed. More than a year ago, Public Works said it wanted the roundabout to alleviate traffic problems which would be caused by the opening of the Enighed Commercial Port. Trucks using the barges would have a difficult time using the road past the Fire Department or Centerline or South Shore road.

Not so, now, says the government. Wystan Benjamin, the federal-aid program manager at Public Works, said traffic from the Port is not causing major problems.  It’s just that the four/five way intersection is a bad one, he said. Surprising comment, eh?  Two years of pain to fix something they say isn’t broke.

Here’s something Public Works had better think of now, too.  The south shore road up Gifft Hill is a disaster.  Potholes galore need to be fixed.  If Gifft Hill is not repaired, folks at the Westin, Great Cruz Bay, Chocolate Hole, Rendezvous, Fish Bay and so on are in trouble if they find gridlock  getting into town by the south route.  Their only option is to go up Gifft Hill … and that’s treacherous, even on dry roads.  Hope Public Works has got some money for asphalt!

3 thoughts on “Roundabout plans – worse before it gets better”

  1. Frank, can you elaborate on your comment about Gifft Hill Rd? I will be staying at a villa there later this year (November) and am curious as to what we have in store. Are you saying South Shore Rd. to Gifft Hill is a mess?
    Thanks.

  2. TWO YEARS???
    We could build every road and intersection on STJ from scratch in two years. From the plan I have seen this roundabout should not take any longer than two weeks, perhaps a month at worse. No wonder the USVI government is broke.
    Best regards,
    Rob Pfriender
    Allied International Construction

  3. Dear Mary Beth:
    In the past year or so, there has been a lot of development above Rendezvous and Cruz Bay, with builders accessing those west-looking lots (St. Thomas) by going up the Gifft Hill Road. Single-family homes as well as development of Virgin Grand Estate lots.
    In other words, a lot of construction traffic (examples: cement trucks, flatbeds hauling bulldozers) on a two-lane (?) road, that has a lot of switchbacks.
    Potholes get started, and get bigger.
    Even in dry weather, your wheels might spin as you make what are 90 degree left or right turns to go up the road.
    Once you’re at the top, you’re OK. But getting there is trouble.
    Folks who live at Reef or Fish or anywhere past the Westin – if the roundabout project does become gridlock – will have the Gifft Hill climb as a workaround – but it won’t be easy – or safe.
    Frank

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