For the last several days, drivers on St. Thomas have grown increasingly concerned about an improperly working traffic light that directs cars through a one-lane, construction area on Hull Bay Road.
One of the lights is working properly, switching between red and green, but the other one has been blinking red, according to drivers. The malfunctioning light has almost led to an accident and is precarious to navigate since one side assumes it can go without stopping.
Besides having the potential to cause a front-end collision, cars could topple off the side of the hill. Water-filled, plastic barriers are the only structure between the one-lane road and a deep gap between the existing lane and a new concrete wall. The gap will be filled to complete the other lane.
Roan Creque, Public Works’ assistant commissioner, said he’s aware of the light issue and that the contractor, Rumina Construction Management, is working on solving the problem.
According to Franklyn Victor of Rumina Construction Management, the blinking traffic light is losing its charge much faster than it did when it was first installed. Victor said the company he rented the lights from is sending a technician in the next day or so to address the issue.
The light has been blinking red since last Friday, Victor said.
Since the construction project began last year, residents who live nearby have raised concerns about the safety of the project and have complained about excessive runoff issues.
Apart from the traffic light issue, Creque said there are no other issues with the Rumina project and that engineers from his office are regularly monitoring its progress.
“If they weren’t up to par [Rumina], I would’ve sent them home a long time ago,” Creque said.
Jomo McClean, the federal aid highway program manager with Public Works, echoed Creque in saying there are no performance issues with Rumina. He stated that the construction is not only acceptable, but that it’s also innovative.
Still, many who live near the construction and drive through it regularly aren’t pleased. They maintain that the safety issues are growing and that the project has led to increased amounts of runoff going into Magens Bay.
There’s been no work on the project for the last three weeks, Victor said, since the concrete wall that was poured to support the new lane has to be tested.
Victor explained that it can take this long for the concrete to dry and that cylindrical samples were made with the same concrete to test its breaking point. If the concrete can’t withstand a certain pressure then the wall will have to be redone.
As of now, there isn’t an exact date for the project’s completion, Victor said.
Creque said that Rumina was also hired to fix the road going into Coki Point in Smith Bay, but that the work has yet to start, adding that to continue the project, Rumina needs an official notice to proceed, but it has been unable to get one since the contract was awarded in 2015.
“Basically we’ve been unable to proceed, since the account is showing up as a prior year debt, but we really just need to change the date on the document from 2015 to 2017,” Creque said.
Creque added that the island’s only asphalt-making operation isn’t working now either, due to a computer issue, so that’s also putting roadwork behind. As soon as it’s operable again, he said, improvements would be made to both Raphune Hill and North Star Village.