|This section, one of 5 along a two-mile section of Centerline Road, is being undermined each day
picture courtesy of St John Tradewinds
Lets hope that it does not take a horrible accident before Centerline Road is actually fixed. This week Linda Lohr of the St John Source reported the Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls confirmed that the portion of Centerline Road which is literally falling by bits and pieces into the valley far below should be repaired by March. Others have also recently written about the collapse of this important road: after a torrential rain last month, the Virgin Islands Daily News reported last month that the Centerline Road is Collapsing, St John Tradewinds warned Time to Raise the Alarm about Centerline Road and News of St John posted Sign Warns Drivers About Deteriorating Conditions. Some people have tweeted about it and, of course, it has made it onto Facebook.
St John Source reports that: Smalls said the project will go out to bid the week of June 17, if not before, and if the bids are “responsive,” they will be evaluated and awarded in July. He said work should start in September.
Over the years, the road faced occasional erosion issues but things really went south in October 2010 [nearly 3 years ago!] when Hurricane Otto passed through. It caused massive undermining of the road in one location and serious erosion and undermining in others.
Thankfully, some temporary fixes will happen 'right away' [today?, tomorrow?, or 'island time' right away?] according to Federal Highway Administration's construction manager crews will seal the crack in the road that sits just a few feet from the edge of the abyss. Additionally, they will construct an asphalt berm at the edge to divert the water away from hole. Public Works says it will install speed bumps to slow people down and 'look for' a portable traffic light. We hope the National Park electronic sign that has been borrowed from the National Park Service (see below) stays in place to continue to warn drivers of the very narrowed road.
|News of St John took this picture recently|
In the meantime, St John residents have taken to the road (literally) to get the backing of folks for action NOW! Coral Bay resident Beverly Melius took to the road with a petition the other day and within a few hours of standing by the hole in Centerline Road gathered 255 signatures on her petition to request that the Legislature hold a hearing on the road matter. A copy went to Smalls as well.
The reason for concern is real. Centerline Road is the lifeline for Coral Bay since it is the only road which can accommodate trucks which bring in food, water, and propane and really is the only usable road attaching the east end of the island to Cruz Bay. As shown below, the only other access to Coral Bay is over Bordeaux Mountain (small road depicted by yellow line going into Coral Bay) which can be treacherous even in good weather but, especially so when roads are wet or at night. The Bordeaux road is not a road to be used in any sort of emergency (for an ambulance, police, or fire vehicles) or for anyone who is at all timid about St John roads.
|Centerline Road is the Route 10 (with arrow) and
Bordeaux Mountain Road is the yellow line flowing into Coral Bay from the south
If you are as concerned as many of us about getting this road back to a safe condition as soon as possible (and, certainly before the end of hurricane season), please contact the Governor's Office and urge our Governor to do everything he can to expedite this important project.