Three years after being initially damaged, Island Roads Corp. got to work last week fixing a section of Centerline Road, above.
Island Roads Corp. rolled its heavy equipment into place near the Upper Carolina subdivision on Monday morning, January 13, to begin work on the most heavily damaged area of Centerline Road.
The repairs which began last week came more than three years after the road was initially damaged during Tropical Storm Otto in October 2010. Heavy rains during that storm undermined several sections of Centerline Road and a section of Fish Bay Road.
Several years passed as Department of Public Works officials accessed the damage, drew up plans and filled out paperwork with the Federal Highway of Administration for funding to fix the damaged areas of the roads.
In January 2012, FHA finally signed off on the roughly $1 million project which at that point included three areas of Centerline Road only, explained Department of Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls.
“I never said what areas of the road were included or not included in the project,” Smalls told St. John Tradewinds on Friday afternoon, January 17. “I’ll be honest with you, I just knew it as ‘areas that were impacted’ that FHA approved the reconstruction for. That area [Fish Bay Road] was not included and perhaps it didn’t meet the threshold.”
There is hope in the horizon, however, for Fish Bay residents, as DPW is set to issue three additional bid packages (see related story above).
Another year and a half would pass before DPW put the FHA-approved Centerline Road project out for bids, which were advertised in June 2013. In the meantime, heavy rains in May 2013 sent a section of Centerline Road near the Upper Carolina subdivision tumbling down the hillside.
Since then, Centerline Road — the lone road connecting Cruz Bay and Coral Bay — has been passable only in one lane in that section. DPW officials installed speed bumps and warning signs in the area as they waited for the government contract to be finalized.
Island Roads Corp.’s bid was accepted in August 2013 and FHA signed off on the contract in November. DPW issued Island Roads a Notice to Proceed in mid-December with work originally set to begin the second week of January.
One week after that projected date, Island Roads installed the island’s only traffic lights on either side of the one lane area as crews work to construct a retaining wall to keep Centerline Road in place.
The $1 million Centerline Road project is scheduled to last nine months and is not expected to force the closure of the road.
In addition to the area of Centerline Road near the Upper Carolina subdivision, two other damaged areas of the road are included in this project. The first is not far past the one lane area heading into Coral Bay and the second area is past the Coral Bay overlook heading into Cruz Bay.
After years of waiting, residents were thrilled to see crews working on the area last week.
“I am so excited I can’t even tell you,” said one Coral Bay resident who commutes to Cruz Bay for work. “I have been so worried every single time it rains and every time I drive over that area. It’s incredibly exciting to see repairs underway.”
DPW Commissioner Smalls was pleased to have the project finally underway as well, he explained.
“We all want things to happen overnight, but I have to go through different ropes and get approvals,” said Smalls. “It’s a process. It’s nice to see now, but when you get the blows in between it’s rough.”