83.9 F
Charlotte Amalie
Monday, June 27, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesPaved with Good Intentions: Rushed Road Project Becomes a Hazard

Paved with Good Intentions: Rushed Road Project Becomes a Hazard

June 5, 2007 — Route 65 through Estate Bethlehem on St. Croix was improperly paved against the recommendations of Public Works engineers, officials testified Tuesday before the Finance Committee in Frederiksted.
Recently christened the Casper Holstein Highway, Route 65 was paved from beginning to end last year, and for several months was the smoothest road on St. Croix. Within six months of completion, however, portions of the road buckled and others caved in.
One corner near the ruins of the Bethlehem sugar mill looks very much like a rug that has slid and formed a ruck, or vertical fold. Traffic that not long ago zoomed quickly through now must often come to a complete stop and maneuver through an obstacle course of dips and rises. The improper paving was ostensibly a stopgap measure to give residents affected by work on Midland Road another route in and out. Senators differed on whether such a stopgap was a proper use of funds.
“Route 65 — a temporary road surfacing was done there, and it is badly in need of repair already," Sen. Ronald Russell asked Deputy Public Works Commissioner Aloy Nielsen. "What is happening there?”
Nielsen didn't hesitate in his response: "It bothers us tremendously. We spoke to the contractors, and they told us they informed (the Commissioner of Public Works that) laying pavement down without preparing the road properly was a bad idea, but were pretty much told to proceed. They ignored the engineers. I don’t like to say it, because it reflects poorly on us, but that’s how it is.”
Roberto Cintron, an engineer with Public Works, provided some firsthand detail about Route 65.
“When I came on board, $700,000 had been appropriated to pave roads in the area to bring relief to the people who normally use Midland Road,” Cintron said. “The prior commissioner made the decision to use that $700,000 for a temporary fix. So we fixed it with the understanding the road is not going to last.”
One senator blamed the poor road job on politics.
“I can tell you what happened, because I was here,” said Sen. Carlton Dowe. “We were trying to pave quickly because the election was coming. It was shortsighted. If you do what is right, the people will reward you.”
Such problems are a thing of the past, another senator said.
“It’s a new day, this business of engineers being directed to go against their wishes,” said Sen. Terrence "Positive" Nelson, the committee chairman. “I always say to young Virgin Islanders working in government, 'Don’t let anybody else make you do something to stain your own reputation.'”
Russell and Nelson both asked Commissioner Darryl Smalls if Public Works could shave or grind down the high points of the road to make it less dangerous to drive down. Smalls said he would look into it, but said real repair would require new money.
The committee hearing was convened to consider a bill appropriating $592,750 to pave specific sections of road in Estate Whim, Estate Upper Love, Estate Grove Place and Estate Glynn, all on St. Croix. Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls told the committee some of the specific projects had already been done and others would require more money than specified in the bill before the committee.
As a result, the bill would have no effect if passed, and was kept in committee to be rewritten. Smalls recounted to the senators what roads were complete and what projects would require how much additional funding.
Acting Director of Management and Budget Debra Gottlieb testified against the road bill, saying the funding did not exist because the Legislature had appropriated more spending from the government’s General Fund than the amount of money expected to come in as revenue.
“Current revenue projections remain unchanged at $804.3 million while the current … appropriation level is $846.3 million,” Gottlieb said. “The government … does not have sufficient resources to release all of the … 2007 appropriations at this time. Accordingly, OMB is managing the situation by only releasing … appropriations at the level of available resources.”
Public Works does not have the manpower or resources to work on all of the approved road and capital projects in any event, Gottlieb said, urging Public Works to develop a comprehensive road plan as a way of planning ahead and avoiding such budgeting pitfalls. In his testimony, Smalls said just such a plan was in the works. Smalls has promoted his goal of a comprehensive transportation and road plan at each phase of his confirmation hearings and on several recent occasions when speaking to the public.
In other road business, Smalls said the long-running Midland Road project should be complete in four to five months.
Roadwork in Estate Whim, Campo Rico and several other areas require more funding to complete. Smalls outlined the estimated funding needs for some of the outstanding projects and described how he planned to proceed.
“What we want to do is take a look at all the projects that are funded and get them completed,” Smalls said. “Then all the projects that are not funded, prioritize those and request funding.”
“Since we are in a fiscal crunch, should we change the date for the appropriation to fiscal 2008?” Nelson asked Smalls.
“Public Works can wait,” Smalls said. “The question is, can the community wait?”
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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

STAY CONNECTED

20,771FansLike
4,758FollowersFollow
June 5, 2007 -- Route 65 through Estate Bethlehem on St. Croix was improperly paved against the recommendations of Public Works engineers, officials testified Tuesday before the Finance Committee in Frederiksted.
Recently christened the Casper Holstein Highway, Route 65 was paved from beginning to end last year, and for several months was the smoothest road on St. Croix. Within six months of completion, however, portions of the road buckled and others caved in.
One corner near the ruins of the Bethlehem sugar mill looks very much like a rug that has slid and formed a ruck, or vertical fold. Traffic that not long ago zoomed quickly through now must often come to a complete stop and maneuver through an obstacle course of dips and rises. The improper paving was ostensibly a stopgap measure to give residents affected by work on Midland Road another route in and out. Senators differed on whether such a stopgap was a proper use of funds.
“Route 65 -- a temporary road surfacing was done there, and it is badly in need of repair already," Sen. Ronald Russell asked Deputy Public Works Commissioner Aloy Nielsen. "What is happening there?”
Nielsen didn't hesitate in his response: "It bothers us tremendously. We spoke to the contractors, and they told us they informed (the Commissioner of Public Works that) laying pavement down without preparing the road properly was a bad idea, but were pretty much told to proceed. They ignored the engineers. I don’t like to say it, because it reflects poorly on us, but that’s how it is.”
Roberto Cintron, an engineer with Public Works, provided some firsthand detail about Route 65.
“When I came on board, $700,000 had been appropriated to pave roads in the area to bring relief to the people who normally use Midland Road,” Cintron said. “The prior commissioner made the decision to use that $700,000 for a temporary fix. So we fixed it with the understanding the road is not going to last.”
One senator blamed the poor road job on politics.
“I can tell you what happened, because I was here,” said Sen. Carlton Dowe. “We were trying to pave quickly because the election was coming. It was shortsighted. If you do what is right, the people will reward you.”
Such problems are a thing of the past, another senator said.
“It’s a new day, this business of engineers being directed to go against their wishes,” said Sen. Terrence "Positive" Nelson, the committee chairman. “I always say to young Virgin Islanders working in government, 'Don’t let anybody else make you do something to stain your own reputation.'”
Russell and Nelson both asked Commissioner Darryl Smalls if Public Works could shave or grind down the high points of the road to make it less dangerous to drive down. Smalls said he would look into it, but said real repair would require new money.
The committee hearing was convened to consider a bill appropriating $592,750 to pave specific sections of road in Estate Whim, Estate Upper Love, Estate Grove Place and Estate Glynn, all on St. Croix. Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls told the committee some of the specific projects had already been done and others would require more money than specified in the bill before the committee.
As a result, the bill would have no effect if passed, and was kept in committee to be rewritten. Smalls recounted to the senators what roads were complete and what projects would require how much additional funding.
Acting Director of Management and Budget Debra Gottlieb testified against the road bill, saying the funding did not exist because the Legislature had appropriated more spending from the government’s General Fund than the amount of money expected to come in as revenue.
“Current revenue projections remain unchanged at $804.3 million while the current ... appropriation level is $846.3 million,” Gottlieb said. “The government ... does not have sufficient resources to release all of the ... 2007 appropriations at this time. Accordingly, OMB is managing the situation by only releasing ... appropriations at the level of available resources.”
Public Works does not have the manpower or resources to work on all of the approved road and capital projects in any event, Gottlieb said, urging Public Works to develop a comprehensive road plan as a way of planning ahead and avoiding such budgeting pitfalls. In his testimony, Smalls said just such a plan was in the works. Smalls has promoted his goal of a comprehensive transportation and road plan at each phase of his confirmation hearings and on several recent occasions when speaking to the public.
In other road business, Smalls said the long-running Midland Road project should be complete in four to five months.
Roadwork in Estate Whim, Campo Rico and several other areas require more funding to complete. Smalls outlined the estimated funding needs for some of the outstanding projects and described how he planned to proceed.
“What we want to do is take a look at all the projects that are funded and get them completed,” Smalls said. “Then all the projects that are not funded, prioritize those and request funding.”
“Since we are in a fiscal crunch, should we change the date for the appropriation to fiscal 2008?” Nelson asked Smalls.
“Public Works can wait,” Smalls said. “The question is, can the community wait?”
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.