Road construction ramps up on St. Thomas and St. Croix


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ST. THOMAS - Motorists may have noticed a lot of detour signs, one-lane roads and closed roads around the island in recent weeks.

Some of the roads have opened back up, and in other cases, congestion will be relieved at least temporarily through the holidays.

V.I. Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls said the road work is important and urged people to be patient during the construction period.

Smalls gave an update on a number of road projects in the territory.

Market Square

The restoration of the Rothschild Francis Market Square area is on schedule and on budget, Smalls said.

He acknowledged that the construction in the area - and the roads that have been closed around the square - have impacted local businesses, motorists and Savan residents.

Many of the roads that were closed have since reopened, with the exception of the section of Kronprindsens Gade that travels east from Club 75 to the Green Corner store. Smalls said the road is closed to allow workers to reconstruct water, electrical and drainage lines in the area.

"It is likely a lane will be opened along that road ahead of schedule," Smalls said in a prepared statement.

In other areas of the project, crews already have laid down cobblestone and installed underground infrastructure. More still needs to be done, including landscaping, signs, cobblestones and installing new traffic signals that take on a more historic look, Smalls said.

Smalls the project should be done by April, but construction will stop temporarily on Dec. 20 to accommodate holiday motorists and resume again in January.

Crown Mountain Road

On the North Side of St. Thomas, construction is ongoing on a long-term project referred to as the "Crown Mountain Slide," Smalls said.

The contractor is building a wall to maintain the road in an area that once held dumpsters, and where major drainage problems impacted the roadway.

The project is only one of three on the North Side.

The Virgin Islands Next Generation Network is laying underground fiber-optic cables, and Public Works recently completed the restoration of a section of Hull Bay Road.

At several points along Crown Mountain Road, traffic lights are set up to allow only one lane of traffic through at a time.

Havensight

The fourth and final phase of construction on the Long Bay Road project is continuing in the Havensight area - between Mandela Circle and the entrance to the West Indian Co. dock.

When finished, the project will alleviate flooding problems along Frenchman's Bay Road by installing underground drainage structures. Crews also are installing a new water line and removing overhead power lines and placing them underground.

Two more lanes of traffic eventually will be added in the area, with four lanes available to reduce traffic congestion between Havensight and downtown Charlotte Amalie.

Raphune Hill

Crews also are working to widen the Raphune Hill intersection next to Wheatley Center to minimize the congestion that usually affects drivers traveling down Raphune Hill.

As part of the Raphune Hill project, on Sunday at 5 a.m., crews will reroute downhill traffic through the Oswald Harris Court housing community in order to complete a drainage structure.

Eastbound motorists will have one lane available to pass up the hill through the construction zone.

"We recognize rerouting traffic will impact motorists, but this work is critical and essential to complete this project," Smalls said.

He said motorists should to use alternate routes if possible until the roadway reopens in both directions on Monday afternoon.

St. Croix

Public Works is involved with a number of road reconstruction projects on St. Croix.

Smalls said the Christiansted Bypass, which has been under construction since 2007, is largely finished. The project will undergo inspection and then public officials will have a ceremony sometime within the next month to formally open the new road.

"The positive impact on downtown Christiansted will be felt immediately, with trucks and other vehicles able to cross the island without clogging streets in the historic town," Smalls said.

Public Works also is about to advertise two Requests for Proposals.

The first is for an islandwide paving project to include restoration of the roadway around Luis Hospital and major repairs at the end of Midland Road in Estate Calquohoun, where the road is in "deplorable condition," Smalls said.

The second RFP will solicit contractors to perform a restoration project on Melvin Evans Highway from East Airport Road going west to the traffic signal just beyond the entrance to the police station, where extensive work needs to be done, Smalls said.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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