Public Works officials got word to the media last week through Government House that a contractor had been selected for repairs to damaged sections of Centerline Road, one of which is pictured above.
Except for confirming — via Government House spokesperson Jean Greaux — that a contractor was selected for the Centerline Road repair project last week, Department of Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls released little information about the project.
In response to numerous calls from St. John Tradewinds to DPW, Government House director of public information Greaux sent an email on Wednesday, July 24.
“Bids were received on Friday, July 19, 2013 for the road repairs to be completed along Centerline Road on the island of St. John,” according to the email. “Bids were evaluated on Monday, July 22, and a contractor was selected. Once all the required documentation has been received, DPW will be moving forward with the assistance of the Departments of Property and Procurement and Justice along with the Office of the Governor in executing the construction contract at which time the name of the contractor can be publicly announced.”
There was no mention in Greaux’s email of the total amount of the bid, however, a report on the St. John Source last week claimed it was “for a little more than $1 million.”
Several sections of Centerline Road — the sole road connecting the towns of Cruz Bay and Coral Bay — as well as a section of Fish Bay Road were initially damaged in the wake of heavy rains from Tropical Storm Otto in 2010.
The roadbed underneath Centerline Road, the only route across the island for commuters, students, delivery trucks, emergency vehicles and visitors, continued to degrade over almost three years while DPW attempted to secure “emergency funding” for repairs from the Federal Highway Administration. The only actions taken by DPW during that time were placing orange cones in the damaged areas of the roads.
By the time a section of Centerline Road near the Upper Carolina subdivision turnoff crumbled off the hillside during a rain storm in early May, residents had had enough. With only one lane passable on the partially blind curve, residents circulated petitions and made numbers phone calls to government officials.
In June, DPW officials placed larger orange barriers in the area and installed signs warning of the danger. Government officials also borrowed an intermittently working flashing sign from National Park Service warning drivers of the single lane ahead.
In late June, DPW poured asphalt speed bumps on either side of the expanding hole as well as a berm around the hole itself.
The FHA grant was approved in mid-May and DPW advertised for bids this month. The initial deadline for bids was July 16, which was apparently extended to July 19.
The overall project was supposed to include all three sections of Centerline Road as well as the damaged section of Fish Bay Road.
Commissioner Smalls did not return Tradewinds phone calls last week seeking confirmation of the bid package scope or amount of the winning bid.