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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, June 22, 2024


Sept. 7, 2001 — Land surveyors have recently been studying the hillside above Christiansted for a route for the long-awaited bypass road that would divert through-traffic around the historic town.
The proposed Christiansted Bypass, on the drawing board for some 26 years, still has a way to go, including purchasing private property along the route and obtaining Coastal Zone Management Committee approval. But according to Aloy Nielsen, director of federal highway engineering for the Public Works Department, $12.6 million in federal funds is available to begin the first phase of the project.
The 1.2-mile stretch of road is planned to start above the Old Senate Building on Contentment Road and run to East End Road in Mount Welcome. It will have two intersections, at King Cross Street and at Peters Farm Road.
At a recent town meeting in Christiansted, concern was expressed that diverting the main flow of traffic around town would affect business negatively. "I’m sure the value of property is going to dive more than it is now," Olaf Hendricks said.
But Nielsen said the bypass is needed as much now as when it was first proposed in 1975. At that time, the island’s main cargo port was at Gallows Bay. Trucks leaving the port for points west had to maneuver through the narrow streets of Christiansted, he said.
Although most cargo now is handled at the Container Port on the island’s south shore, large trucks and other through traffic still must pass through the town. That, Nielsen said, is affecting the historic flavor of Christiansted.
"If we can avoid all the through-traffic, why not do it?" Nielsen said. "We have a lot of historic buildings in Christiansted. They suffer a lot of vibration from the heavy vehicles."
According to Public Works Department and Federal Highway Administration officials, some 22 property owners must be paid fair market value for the land that is needed along the bypass route. Some residents may have to sell their houses and be entitled to compensated for relocation costs, he said.
And, Nielsen said, the bypass could open up development on the hillside above town, which commands panoramic views of Christiansted Harbor.
"Once it goes in, believe me, you’ll see a lot of development on that hillside," Nielsen said.
The bypass will have two 12-foot-wide lanes, 8-foot paved shoulders able to accommodate joggers and bicyclists, and a 5-foot-wide sidewalk running the length of the 1.2-mile road.

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