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Public Works Town Hall Addresses Renovation Project for Shambly Road in Sugar Estate

Public Works Commissioner Derek Gabriel addresses residents about upcoming road repairs during Wednesday’s town hall. (Source photo by Adisha Penn)

Updates from the Public Works Department and residents’ concerns were shared during a town hall meeting on Wednesday addressing the damaged roadway on First Avenue in Sugar Estate and the upcoming renovations over the next twelve months.

“This is the first step in a larger initiative to address stormwater drainage in the entire territory,” said Public Works Commissioner Derek Gabriel.

The town hall was held at the St. Andrews Episcopal Church on First Avenue. About 30 people were in attendance at the meeting. Gabriel said that the project will work to address “pavement rehabilitation, utility work, drainage improvements, and sidewalk rehabilitation.”

The project, which costs approximately $4.8 million, is anticipated to be completed within one year, according to Gabriel. Two million dollars in funding for the project emerged from the 2021 Legislative Act 8454 (bill no. 34-0036), with the remaining funds coming from the American Rescue Plan Act that must be spent before 2026.

Island Roads Corporation was selected last year as the design-build contractor for the project. Project manager Geoffrey Fleming Jr. said that the project is anticipated to be completed within a year; however, delays could occur, and he asked residents to be patient with the project.

“On the old roads, there are no plans,” said Fleming. “I may find something that I did not expect, that’s a delay.”

Geoffrey Fleming Jr., Island Roads project manager, details the upcoming road repair project to residents during Wednesday’s town hall. (Source photo by Adisha Penn)

Fleming explained during the meeting that the entirety of First Avenue drains by 2nd and 3rd Street, goes out through Paul M. Pearson Garden, and then out to Yacht Haven Grande. As for the project, he noted that it will be completed in sections and stages.

Work will begin on the north side of the road on 10th Street and work its way down to 1st Street, then work will ensue on the south side. As far as stages, Fleming explained that the project will include digging up the street, removing underground boxes and pipes, installing new boxes, installing new pipes, laying base material, and lastly, installing sidewalks.

For the north side, gutters that lay up to fifteen feet up each street adjacent to First Avenue will be rebuilt. Each street will have an inlet to drain into a box that will take it to drains leading to Yacht Haven Grande. On the south side, the entire sidewalk will be removed to check utilities for sewage leakage. Once drainage is completed, new sewer and water lines will be installed.

Part of the First Avenue road that intersects 8th Street. (Source photo by Adisha Penn)

Residents of the area present at the town hall expressed concerns over safety improvements for roadway widening, means of notification about the project, street parking, and disruption of activities such as church and funeral services and daycare.

Pertaining to roadway widening, at this time the department is “really just trying to address drainage issues,” said Gabriel.

As for communications, Gabriel encouraged residents to follow the Public Works Department’s communication mediums to stay updated with the project’s happenings. Email contactdpw@dpw.vi.gov and request to be added to the department’s news subscription, or go to their website, and subscribe. He said the department will provide updates through radio and email as necessary.

Federal Highway Program Manager Jomo McClean said that “communication is key. We have a robust communication team and we are definitely going to make sure that we use all forms of communication. The community can’t expect to have the project start and be in construction, and be completed, and have everything the way it is [currently].”

Relating to other concerns, Gabriel said the department will do its best to mitigate inconveniences.

“There will be disruptions. I want to be very honest with you guys,” said Gabriel. Each and every one of you know there are very few places to park given the density of this neighborhood.” He added, “It’s why we came to the town hall meeting to see what works best for the people who live and work in this area.”

According to Fleming, roadway signs will start going up next week and the project renovations will commence the following week.

Road repairs will soon address drainage and sidewalk rehabilitation on First Street. (Source photo by Adisha Penn)

Gabriel highlighted that residents should move unregistered vehicles and items that do not belong on the public roadway or risk being towed.

“Each one tell one,” said Gabriel.

He added that individuals with special needs or concerns, such as accessibility issues, should reach out to the department immediately.

“I need you to start telling people that this is coming so that they can engage with us,” Gabriel said. “So please if you know somebody, please have them get in contact with us now.”

The commissioner highlighted that though the project might be an inconvenience, it will benefit the community in the future.

“I promise you, our infrastructure will be better once it’s all said and done,” he said.

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