The Virgin Islands Port Authority provided updates on Wednesday on various projects on St. Croix, including the completion of the Gordon Finch Cargo Terminal and Molasses Pier, expected to be completed as early as this summer.
In a media tour that began on St. Thomas and St. John and continued to St. Croix, representatives of the Port Authority provided a tour of facilities that included the Gordon Finch Cargo Terminal.
After plans to develop the cargo facility and molasses pier were delayed in 2007 due to funding challenges, the U.S. Maritime Administration awarded the Port Authority a $10 million grant. The 33rd Legislature matched funds of $3.8 million, and the project began in January 2020.
The Gordon Finch Cargo Facility will include a 19,000 square foot building, 13,000 square feet of which will be cargo and the remaining will be administrative offices. The building will house Customs and Border Patrol, V.I. Port Authority and the Internal Revenue Bureau.
“Part of this is the in-water marine work that is going on right now, which is a new roll-on roll-off ramp that can accommodate vessels up to 200 feet long and will have a draft of 20 feet,” said Port Authority Assistant Executive Director Damian Cartwright.
Cartwright said that the development of the new cargo facility and molasses pier will relocate operations currently on the north shore and Gallows Bay area. Eventually, the new facility will handle the regional traffic from Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and BVI that is happening at Gallows Bay. The goal is to turn Gallows Bay into a passenger facility, hopefully revitalizing the greater Christiansted area.
“It is very strategic in terms of moving that cargo in the heart of Gallows Bay and relocating it toward the industrial side of St. Croix, which is more complementary for that type of use, which is the south shore,” Cartwright said.
Dredging of the molasses dock is expected to begin in the next three months. “Once that’s completed, we will be able to accommodate two vessels simultaneously, roll-on roll-off operations,” Cartwright said. “The structure is very sound, built to last for a very long time.”
“Between the airport and seaport, we are spending collectively in excess $75 million in St. Croix as we speak. We are serious about committing to the Gallows Bay project, really transforming it into a more tourist-type destination, bring our cargo up to real modern times,” said Port Authority Executive Director Carlton Dowe.
Other marine projects include the rebuilding of the Wilfred Allick Port & Transshipment Center. The 43,000 square foot building that was previously roughly 33,000 feet was strategically brought up in size based on industry standards.
By the end of 2021, the container port terminal is expected to be built. The funding for this building was provided 50 percent by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and 50 percent by the V.I. Port Authority and totals $15.5 million.
“If you have three children and only one of them doing well, then your family mash up,” said Dowe. “Whatever you are eating, drinking or wearing right now came through our port, and that’s why it is important to get the infrastructure up and running.”