North Shore Road Project in Full Swing — Paving Roadway and VINP Visitors Center Soon

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Island Roads has completed excavation and demolition of the VINP Visitors center parking lot to prepare the area for paving soon.

Newly paved parking lots at Peace Hill and Jumbie Beach are just the latest completed work of the on-going $4.85 million North Shore Road rehabilitation project, which is in full swing again this month.

With funding from Federal Highway Administration’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants and the V.I. National Park fee program at Trunk Bay, VINP officials are overseeing a complete overhaul of the roadway and parking facilities along the island’s North Shore Road.

The project was awarded to contractor Island Roads in September 2009 and was scheduled to wrap up in September 2010. While the project is proceeding on schedule, officials have obtained additional funds to extend the scope and time frame of the work, explained VINP Superintendent Mark Hardgrove.

“We’ve extended the project one month to October 2010, because we’ve added about $800,000 of work,” said Hardgrove.

With an additional $490,000 from Federal Highway Administration and $325,000 from the NPS fee program, officials have been able to extend the paving project from the originally planned final destination, Hardgrove added.

The Peace Hill parking area, above, was recently paved with funding from the VINP fee program at Trunk Bay.

“We were able to pave the parking areas at Peace Hill and Jumbie and extend the paving project from the triangle near Annaberg, which was previously where the paving was going to end, and take it all the way to the gravel at Francis Bay,” he said.

Starting at Trunk Bay, Island Roads will also be repaving the North Shore Road all the way into Cruz Bay. The paving should get underway this week and Hardgrove didn’t expect any road closures.

“They’re starting at Trunk Bay and laying down a structural overlay of asphalt which is the heaviest you can put down,” said Hardgrove. “It’s for high-traffic and long-life. They’ll be doing both lanes all the way to the VINP maintenance area.”

“The road will stay open and there shouldn’t be more than a five-minute delay Monday through Friday as they pave North Shore,” Hardgrove said.

In the meantime, officials got to work on excavation and demolition of the VINP visitors’ center parking lot ahead of repaving that area next week, explained Hardgrove.

“I would say that in about three weeks they should be pulling into Cruz Bay,” said Hardgrove. “At the same time they’ve completed all the excavation and demolition work for the new parking lot at the visitors’ center. They’ve removed all the top failing asphalt and they’re making improvements to all the utilities, water, sewage and electric.”

“They are dealing with the excavation of the utilities and once they finish that, they’ll put in a layer of gravel and grade it for a positive draining,” said the VINP superintendent. “Then they’ll do another structural overlay there.”

Island Roads is also installing a 24-inch channel to direct water into the existing culvert near the visitors’ center, Hardgrove added.

“They’re putting in a swale on the apartment side of the parking lot,” he said. “That should deal with the majority of the water flow and keep the parking lot clean and dry.”

The VINP visitors’ center parking lot is expected to be closed to the general public for about three weeks. The area, however, has been open for taxi operators, people accessing the boat fuel dock and for visitors with mobility issues, Hardgrove explained.

“We’ve got it open to taxi operators for the Reef Bay hike and there is access for visitors and accessibility for folks who need assistance,” he said. “We hope to have the parking lot back open to the public in two to three weeks. But the rain is pushing us back a bit.”

In addition to the paving, Island Roads has installed new guardrails at Trunk Bay, a new stone wall near the turnoff to Annaberg Sugar Plantation and new highly reflective signs along North Shore Road.

Once the entire roadway is paved, Island Roads will paint a center stripe and install “traffic calming devices,” Hardgrove added.

“New highly reflective signs are going in and the last thing they’ll do, when all the paving is done, is stripe the road,” said the VINP superintendent. “There will be center stripes and we’ll also install traffic calming devices of soft, smooth speed bumps to allow people to slow down to 15 miles per hour.”