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HomeNewsArchivesWHEN BRIDGE CONNECTS, GAS STATION WILL BE GONE

WHEN BRIDGE CONNECTS, GAS STATION WILL BE GONE

Oct. 12, 2001 – Nadir Esso will be history once work begins on ramps to connect the "Bridge to Nowhere" to somewhere — the Nadir and Bovoni Roads, to be specific.
Currently the bridge sits in the middle of a field near where the two roads meet. Turpentine Run flows underneath it. But a year from now, work could begin on connecting it to the roads it was designed to serve.
Rod Platzke, a construction manager for the Federal Highway Administration, said Thursday that the agency is in the midst of acquiring rights-of-way along both roads. The Esso station is right at the intersection.
Hans Oriol, who owns Nadir Esso, said he has been in limbo for 10 years waiting for the project to happen. He said he hasn't been able to make needed upgrades to the gas station because no bank will lend him money due to the facility's uncertain future.
According to Oriol, the lack of improvements has caused him to operate his business inefficiently, which has cut the station's income by about 50 percent over the past three years. "I'm in a decline," he said.
Oriol said — and Platzke confirmed — that no offer for the property has been made. Platzke estimated it would take the next six months to wrap up right-of-way procedures and another six months to secure a major Coastal Zone Management permit for the project.
"Then we're ready to go out for bid," he said.
He estimated that connecting the "Bridge to Nowhere" would cost $2 million to $3 million — on top of the $2.3 million the FHA already spent to build the bridge.
The job calls for raising the road in front of Nadir Esso by about 10 feet to bring it level with the bridge roadbed. When finished, Nadir Road will have three lanes in that area, one of them a turning lane onto Bovoni Road.
On the Bovoni Road end, the road will run straight from the middle of the sharp turn near the Clinton E. Phipps Racetrack to the bridge. Work was finished three years ago on the bridge itself, which has become the butt of jokes as well as angered residents who consider it a waste of money on a project that has sat so long unfinished.
"There was a sign on it last April Fool's Day that said For Sale," St. Thomas resident Lisa Walker recalled.
Platzke said the preliminary work for the ramp project has been complicated. In addition to securing the rights-of-way, which is usually done before projects start, the agency had to test for pollutants at the gas station.
Replacing the low bridge now in place over Turpentine Run will help to control the flooding that occurs in the Nadir area, but it is not the final solution, Platzke said. "But the bridge is the single most critical area," he added.
Currently, when there is heavy rain, water backs up at the road-level bridge, causing flooding along Turpentine Run gut.
Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Dean Plaskett said that building homes in the area, a flood plain, was folly. But when the homes were built decades ago, few people considered such factors, he noted. Even if it occurs infrequently, flooding can cause immense damage when it happens. "They need to look at what happened over the last 100 years," he said.
To further reduce flooding, Platzke said, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to widen Turpentine Run, a concrete-lined waterway that runs adjacent to Nadir Road. The widening will take in the area of a neighborhood basketball court. "The basketball court will be relocated," he said.
Plaskett said he thinks the "Bridge to Nowhere" is too big. "It's overkill," he said.
St. Thomas resident Punky Sharp, who sees that help is needed to solve the area's flooding problems, nevertheless agreed with Plaskett that the bridge is oversized. Perhaps, she suggested, a Stateside engineer accustomed to building on a grand scale designed it.
Sharp serves on the board of the Humane Society of St. Thomas, which operates at a site adjacent to the bridge. The society expects to lose the back half of its property to the project, she said.

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Oct. 12, 2001 - Nadir Esso will be history once work begins on ramps to connect the "Bridge to Nowhere" to somewhere -- the Nadir and Bovoni Roads, to be specific.
Currently the bridge sits in the middle of a field near where the two roads meet. Turpentine Run flows underneath it. But a year from now, work could begin on connecting it to the roads it was designed to serve.
Rod Platzke, a construction manager for the Federal Highway Administration, said Thursday that the agency is in the midst of acquiring rights-of-way along both roads. The Esso station is right at the intersection.
Hans Oriol, who owns Nadir Esso, said he has been in limbo for 10 years waiting for the project to happen. He said he hasn't been able to make needed upgrades to the gas station because no bank will lend him money due to the facility's uncertain future.
According to Oriol, the lack of improvements has caused him to operate his business inefficiently, which has cut the station's income by about 50 percent over the past three years. "I'm in a decline," he said.
Oriol said -- and Platzke confirmed -- that no offer for the property has been made. Platzke estimated it would take the next six months to wrap up right-of-way procedures and another six months to secure a major Coastal Zone Management permit for the project.
"Then we're ready to go out for bid," he said.
He estimated that connecting the "Bridge to Nowhere" would cost $2 million to $3 million -- on top of the $2.3 million the FHA already spent to build the bridge.
The job calls for raising the road in front of Nadir Esso by about 10 feet to bring it level with the bridge roadbed. When finished, Nadir Road will have three lanes in that area, one of them a turning lane onto Bovoni Road.
On the Bovoni Road end, the road will run straight from the middle of the sharp turn near the Clinton E. Phipps Racetrack to the bridge. Work was finished three years ago on the bridge itself, which has become the butt of jokes as well as angered residents who consider it a waste of money on a project that has sat so long unfinished.
"There was a sign on it last April Fool's Day that said For Sale," St. Thomas resident Lisa Walker recalled.
Platzke said the preliminary work for the ramp project has been complicated. In addition to securing the rights-of-way, which is usually done before projects start, the agency had to test for pollutants at the gas station.
Replacing the low bridge now in place over Turpentine Run will help to control the flooding that occurs in the Nadir area, but it is not the final solution, Platzke said. "But the bridge is the single most critical area," he added.
Currently, when there is heavy rain, water backs up at the road-level bridge, causing flooding along Turpentine Run gut.
Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Dean Plaskett said that building homes in the area, a flood plain, was folly. But when the homes were built decades ago, few people considered such factors, he noted. Even if it occurs infrequently, flooding can cause immense damage when it happens. "They need to look at what happened over the last 100 years," he said.
To further reduce flooding, Platzke said, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to widen Turpentine Run, a concrete-lined waterway that runs adjacent to Nadir Road. The widening will take in the area of a neighborhood basketball court. "The basketball court will be relocated," he said.
Plaskett said he thinks the "Bridge to Nowhere" is too big. "It's overkill," he said.
St. Thomas resident Punky Sharp, who sees that help is needed to solve the area's flooding problems, nevertheless agreed with Plaskett that the bridge is oversized. Perhaps, she suggested, a Stateside engineer accustomed to building on a grand scale designed it.
Sharp serves on the board of the Humane Society of St. Thomas, which operates at a site adjacent to the bridge. The society expects to lose the back half of its property to the project, she said.