Oct. 5, 2003 — Residents of Scott Free at a town hall meeting Friday chose from five plans to improve what Public Works Commissioner Wayne Callwood, a resident of Scott Free, explained as unsafe conditions of the roads in that area.
Plans included improving drainage systems, swales and gut locations by reinforcing concrete pipes. Plans to widen roads and create attractive retaining walls were presented.
Scott Free Road, officially mapped as Route 405, has long had the attention of highway and traffic planners. (See Scott Free Road repairs to come, but not soon.)
The majority of residents at the meeting agreed on Option 5, which is to improve sections of the road from the west spur southerly to the intersection of Crown Mountain Road, including the east spur improvement. Areas that don't receive roadway improvements will receive a pavement overlay, drainage, and swale improvement. In addition, this plan would create an intersection from Solberg (also identified as Route 40) to the west-spur connections with Plantation Manor Road. The government would have to buy the land from a private owner to utilize this plan.
Hoyle, Tanner, and Associates (HTA) vice president and former Public Works Commissioner Leo Francis and Callwood considered this plan the most economically feasible, and this plan was recommended to residents as the best solution.
"I choose 5 because it would finish sooner" and would "have access of using the road," said resident Lilly Chandler, who was assured that a project that was less costly could be completed sooner.
Casheem Peets, president of the Plantation Manor Condo Association, questioned the preoccupation with cost, as federal funds are being used for the project.
Wystan D. Benjamin, design / construction program manager for V.I. Public Works Department's Office of Highway Engineering, said the money from the federal government must be spread out through out the territory and cannot be used on one project alone.
The Scott Free Road study was done to include consideration of all the improvements: safety, congestion, erosion, and ways to limit cost, said Francis.
Callwood asked for the blessing of about 25 residents of Scott Free and Plantation Manor who attended the meeting.
"We hope to get a consensus from you because you are the ones that have to use the road," said Francis, speaking to residents.
Other alternatives presented at the meeting included:
– Alternative 1: improving the intersection of Crown Mountain Road or Route 33 past the Route 405 intersection and continuing on the east spur to Charlie's Road where it turns north and terminates at Solberg Road.
This plan would not include improvements to the top of Scott Free road at the Solberg Road intersection and Four Corners.
– Alternative 2: improving the road from the intersection of Solberg Road Route 40) to the west-spur connection with Plantation Manor. The government would have to take over Plantation Manor Road from a private owner and no improvements would be made to the lower half of the road in Scott Free from the intersection of Crown Mountain Road.
If this option was chosen, an attractive lookout turnaround would be constructed.
– Alternative 3: fixing the entire Scott Free Road from the intersection at Crown Mountain Road to the intersection with Solberg Road, including the east spur.
This option would allow for improving the hairpin road, installing retaining walls to support widening of the walls, and improving both dips and swales for water, said Peter Clary, vice president of HTA and senior transportation engineer of highway / structures group. However, "traffic patterns will be the same and it is the second-highest cost."
Resident Alan Fleming voted for this option "because I prefer you have a complete road from one point to the other."
Andina Ruan also voted for Option 3. She remembers plans to improve the road in Scott Free from 1988. "Why now accept a patchwork thing?" she asked.
– Alternative 4: improving the entire Scott Free Road from the Crown Mountain intersection to the Solberg intersection, including the west and east spurs and create a new road that would allow traffic to flow through Plantation Manor.
This plan would achieve all the objectives of widening and improving all roads, but it has the highest construction cost, Clary said.
"I feel it would be beneficial to have the road go both ways," said Dale E. Hamilton, vice president of the Plantation Manor Condo Association, referring to plans that would allow traffic to flow through both Scott Free and Plantation Manor. "I think it would benefit the owners of Plantation Manor to have that access to the rest of the island."
Hamilton was concerned when he came to the meeting and thought the Plantation Manor road would be used without improvement. Currently the road is steep and slippery when wet.
"There would have to be some improvement of the road," said Francis. "It's just the concept that we are dealing with" now.
One more public meeting will be scheduled before the final report is turned in to Benjamin's office in December.
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