July 21, 2004 St. John residents and visitors should be driving their vehicles on and off barges at the new Enighed Pond commercial port by the end of November or early December, Darlan Brin, Port Authority executive director, said on Wednesday.
"All of the hard-core improvements are in place," Brin told the Port Authority board at a meeting held at the Westin Resort on St. John.
Brin said that the remaining dredging work should begin soon and will last about a month. During the last dredging go-round, residents were subjected to a foul stench given off by the salt pond. However, he said a deodorant treatment initiated after the problem because apparent did alleviate the situation.
The Port Authority is waiting for the Water and Power Authority to finalize details on its placement of electric as well as potable water lines underground along the road to Pond Mouth, Brin said. When WAPA is done with the work, VIPA will pave that road as part of the Enighed Pond project.
The Enighed Pond commercial port project is expected to alleviate traffic congestion in Cruz Bay. Currently, vehicles clog the Creek area and the North Shore Road when barges load and unload. The situation at Red Hook on St. Thomas, the other end of St. John's transportation lifeline, is even worse.
The Port Authority has embarked on a major reconstruction project at the Red Hook port, too. Brin said St. Thomas residents, St. John commuters and visitors will have to endure chaos at the site until the project is completed probably in about a year. He said the contract for the work with Island Roads is in the draft stage.
Problems at both the Creek and Red Hook have worsened in the last year. At Red Hook, many drivers refuse to queue up for the barge, instead cutting in from a side lane.
"It's a zoo. It's total confusion," Attorney General and VIPA board member Iver Stridiron said at Wednesday's board meeting.
Stridiron conducted the meeting in the absence of Pamela Richards, who holds the post of VIPA board chair by virtue of being Tourism commissioner. He said there appears not to be any control over the Red Hook situation.
Brin said he has ordered VIPA law-enforcement personnel stationed there every day.
Acknowledging the need for some sort of queuing system once the Enighed Pond port facility opens, Brin said his first priority is to get Enighed Pond open; then he will figure out how to get vehicles on and off the barges in an orderly fashion.
The poor condition of the current facilities at Red Hook came under fire from board member Leslie Milliner. "We should be ashamed. There's no excuse for letting the facilities go," Milliner said.
Joe Cranston, a special assistant at the Port Authority, said the Red Hook facilities are scheduled to be repainted next week even though they will be torn down to make way for the new Red Hook marine terminal. The facilities consist of a small shelter, ticket booths and public restrooms. Cranston said toilets and sinks in the restrooms have repeatedly been stolen.
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