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HomeNewsArchivesThree Decades Down the Road, Work Begins on Christiansted Bypass

Three Decades Down the Road, Work Begins on Christiansted Bypass

May 30, 2007 — Gov. John deJongh Jr. Wednesday joined federal and territorial government officials in breaking ground for the much-talked-about and long-awaited Christiansted bypass on St. Croix.
The project, in the planning stages since 1975, is aimed at relieving traffic congestion, improving safety and restricting large vehicles through downtown Christiansted. The bypass will begin at the existing Contentment Road — where Wednesday's ceremonies were held — and follow east to a terminus at the intersection of Hospital Street, East End Road and Mt. Welcome Road.
The project includes construction of two 12-foot lanes, paved shoulders, a climbing lane on the east end, sidewalks with curb along the north side, streetlights and traffic signals. The multi-phase project is fully funded by the Federal Highway Administration. The project is to be done in three separate sections, with three separate, consecutive contracts.
The goal of breaking the project into three phases is to increase the number and quality of bids for each portion, officials said. The way the project is structured also affects how federal grant money is used.
“This project shows the effect of commitment and of not giving up,” deJongh said. “It will reduce congestion, save the town’s infrastructure, increase property values and spur development. That’s all true. But more than that I truly believe this marks the beginning of the renaissance of St. Croix."
But the governor cautioned residents not to expect immediate results.
"I would ask the people of St. Croix for patience and understanding," deJongh said. "We will have tremendous disruption of traffic temporarily as we work out the procedures. I want the public to be aware of what we are doing, where it is heading and to be patient.”
A number of federal highway officials were on hand for the ceremony.
“We have $45 million allocated for roads in the U.S. territories,” said Daniel Camacho of the Federal Highway Administration's Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands Division. “Forty percent of that goes to the Virgin Islands, so we put $18 million a year into the territory’s roads. This project is about 1.2 miles in length, and its estimated cost is $22 million. I think this project is a good example of a successful state and federal partnership.”
Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls said he has been asked whether the project should still be done after all this time.
“Some have asked if, after 30-plus years and after the container port has been moved from Gallows Bay, is this bypass still necessary?" Smalls said. "The answer is an unequivocal yes."
For Deputy Public Works Commissioner Aloy Nielsen, the beginning of construction means the end of difficult questions.
“It has been a long haul to get to here,” he said after the ceremony. “For the 31 years I’ve been with Public Works, people have been asking, ‘When are you going to start?’ And I always defend the project. Lately some have been wondering, is it still a viable project? Yes it is. Traffic is steadily increasing in Christiansted. There is a lot of truck traffic that is tearing up the roads. We don’t want to wait for gridlock in Christiansted to do this.”
Nielsen said there were a number of reasons the project got delayed more than three decades.
“We had a long struggle getting the proper ownership and boundaries of the land taken care of,” he said. “We had difficulty with appraisals. We could only use certified general appraisers, not regular housing appraisers, and they have been hard to come by. Also, many of the land-boundary and ownership records went back to inaccurate old Danish records, so there were long delays resolving convoluted property boundary issues. We had to file for condemnation on some properties …. And while the project is not in the coastal Tier 1 zone, we still needed CZM (the Coastal Zone Management Board) to file a federal consistency determination.”
After the ceremony, as people chatted and snacked at a buffet, a working man in a pickup truck stopped to ask what was happening.
“Fantastic," the St. Croix resident said before traffic forced him on again. "I thought that would never happen. It’s going to make getting to work a lot easier for me when it’s done."
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May 30, 2007 -- Gov. John deJongh Jr. Wednesday joined federal and territorial government officials in breaking ground for the much-talked-about and long-awaited Christiansted bypass on St. Croix.
The project, in the planning stages since 1975, is aimed at relieving traffic congestion, improving safety and restricting large vehicles through downtown Christiansted. The bypass will begin at the existing Contentment Road -- where Wednesday's ceremonies were held -- and follow east to a terminus at the intersection of Hospital Street, East End Road and Mt. Welcome Road.
The project includes construction of two 12-foot lanes, paved shoulders, a climbing lane on the east end, sidewalks with curb along the north side, streetlights and traffic signals. The multi-phase project is fully funded by the Federal Highway Administration. The project is to be done in three separate sections, with three separate, consecutive contracts.
The goal of breaking the project into three phases is to increase the number and quality of bids for each portion, officials said. The way the project is structured also affects how federal grant money is used.
“This project shows the effect of commitment and of not giving up,” deJongh said. “It will reduce congestion, save the town’s infrastructure, increase property values and spur development. That’s all true. But more than that I truly believe this marks the beginning of the renaissance of St. Croix."
But the governor cautioned residents not to expect immediate results.
"I would ask the people of St. Croix for patience and understanding," deJongh said. "We will have tremendous disruption of traffic temporarily as we work out the procedures. I want the public to be aware of what we are doing, where it is heading and to be patient.”
A number of federal highway officials were on hand for the ceremony.
“We have $45 million allocated for roads in the U.S. territories,” said Daniel Camacho of the Federal Highway Administration's Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands Division. “Forty percent of that goes to the Virgin Islands, so we put $18 million a year into the territory’s roads. This project is about 1.2 miles in length, and its estimated cost is $22 million. I think this project is a good example of a successful state and federal partnership.”
Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls said he has been asked whether the project should still be done after all this time.
“Some have asked if, after 30-plus years and after the container port has been moved from Gallows Bay, is this bypass still necessary?" Smalls said. "The answer is an unequivocal yes."
For Deputy Public Works Commissioner Aloy Nielsen, the beginning of construction means the end of difficult questions.
“It has been a long haul to get to here,” he said after the ceremony. “For the 31 years I’ve been with Public Works, people have been asking, ‘When are you going to start?’ And I always defend the project. Lately some have been wondering, is it still a viable project? Yes it is. Traffic is steadily increasing in Christiansted. There is a lot of truck traffic that is tearing up the roads. We don’t want to wait for gridlock in Christiansted to do this.”
Nielsen said there were a number of reasons the project got delayed more than three decades.
“We had a long struggle getting the proper ownership and boundaries of the land taken care of,” he said. “We had difficulty with appraisals. We could only use certified general appraisers, not regular housing appraisers, and they have been hard to come by. Also, many of the land-boundary and ownership records went back to inaccurate old Danish records, so there were long delays resolving convoluted property boundary issues. We had to file for condemnation on some properties .... And while the project is not in the coastal Tier 1 zone, we still needed CZM (the Coastal Zone Management Board) to file a federal consistency determination.”
After the ceremony, as people chatted and snacked at a buffet, a working man in a pickup truck stopped to ask what was happening.
“Fantastic," the St. Croix resident said before traffic forced him on again. "I thought that would never happen. It’s going to make getting to work a lot easier for me when it’s done."
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.