July 23, 2008 — Construction of the Cruz Bay roundabout is expected to begin in August, Winston Benjamin of the Public Works Department said Wednesday.
"We're waiting for the notice to proceed," said Benjamin, who heads Federal Highway Administration programs for the department. He said the $6.9 million federally funded project should take two years to complete.
With school starting near the end of August, Benjamin said he wants to get the project under way before children return to the classroom.
The roundabout will sit at the intersection near Julius E. Sprauve School and adjacent to the school's Clarice Thomas Annex. A Texaco gas station, which closed in July 2007, will be torn down to make way for the roundabout. The Boulon Center shopping center is also nearby.
When Public Works held a public meeting on the project in 2003, staff members thought the roundabout would be operational by 2004. At a June 21, 2007 meeting, they put the construction start date for February. At a March 21 meeting, officials said the contract for the roundabout would be awarded in April.
At the March 21 meeting residents wondered whether the roundabout was still needed because the traffic jams anticipated when the Enighed Pond Marine Facility opened two years ago did not materialize.
Benjamin stressed that the roundabout was necessary.
"It's a very weird intersection," he said.
At this intersection, Centerline Road, Route 107, Boulon Center Road, and the road that runs to Enighed Pond all come together to form one road through the heart of Cruz Bay. And the fire station, with its large trucks, sits less than a block from the intersection on the road to Enighed Pond.
Trucks and heavy equipment have trouble negotiating the turns, Benjamin said.
Additionally, drivers dropping off passengers often stop right at the intersection, which ties up traffic. Benjamin said once the roundabout is complete, drivers will have to stop somewhere outside the roundabout to discharge passengers. This will keep traffic flowing.
The St. Thomas-based Island Roads, the second lowest bidder, was the successful bidder on the roundabout project. Benjamin said a May 21 preconstruction meeting kicked off the project, which was then expected to start July 1.
However, he said Tip Top Construction, which was the lowest bidder, took issue with the fact its bid was turned down because of problems with its construction bond. This bond is put up by the contractor to ensure the project is done according to specification.
Benjamin said Tip Top filed an appeal with the federal Government Accountability Office. He expects that issue to be resolved shortly since the deadline was July 1.
The project received three bids with GEC Inc. the highest bidder, Benjamin said.
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