Roadway Committee Suggests Fixes for Safe Travel

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After getting the go-ahead from Department of Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls in February to form an ad-hoc committee to review island road conditions the group’s findings have fallen on deaf ears.

Norman Gledhill, Paul Devine, Austin Dalmida, Rudolph Thomas and Edmund Roberts have been meeting weekly for months to discuss road conditions on St. John. Since compiling their findings into a report more than a month ago, however, the group has heard nothing from Smalls or anyone at DPW.

Despite the snub, the St. John Roadway Advisory Committee plans to continue their work in hopes of attracting Smalls’ attention in the future, explained Gledhill.

“Our plan to try to come up with more safety ideas and we’d love to meet with the commissioner,” said Gledhill.

The group compiled a 10 page report outlining dangerous areas on Love City’s roads and recommending possible solutions to the problems. Before itemizing specific areas of concern, the committee set forth general issues facing roadways on island.

“As a general note, the committee felt that safe traveling on St. John roads was of immediate concern,” according to the Roadway Advisory Committee report. “More specifically, it was found that St. John roads lacked in several areas: insufficient signage overall for all roads; road striping; insufficient speed limit signage; absence of dangerous area signage; and potholes and poor patching techniques.”

Signage was a major concern for the committee. From “Keep Left” to signaling dangerous curves or areas, the committee found a dire lack of signage on Love City streets.

“St. John is a tourist destination where many visitors are unfamiliar with the roads,” according to the committee’s report. “Speed limit signs are lacking or missing as are ‘Keep Left’ signs. St. John does not have any adequate route signage.”

“Throughout St. John, as it is in many area of the Virgin Islands, roadways contain very dangerous curves,” according to the committee’s report. “Where it is the norm for locals to beep a horn when approaching these dangerous areas, visitors have no such understanding. Further, without proper warning or speed limit signage, vehicles often round these curves at excessive speeds, often well above the legal limit.”

As dangerous as some of the areas on St. John roadways are, the problems are compounded by the lack of striping, according to the Roadway Committee.

“There is ample evidence that St. John roads are inadequately striped or not striped at all,” according to the report. “This is especially important on Centerline Road, which is the heaviest travelled road on St. John and even more important for evening traffic. Narrow, winding roads make for dangerous driving conditions and missing road striping makes the situation even more dangerous.”

The committee also recommended widening most   roads on St. John and completing the construction of existing roads.

“Typical St. John roads are very narrow as they are throughout the Virgin Islands,” according to the report. “Existing easements should be ascertained and possible roadside private lands identified. In those areas where excessively dangerous conditions are evident, such as curves, narrow bridges, rockslide zones and the like, road widening should be considered for each.”

“Throughout St. John, numerous roads have been designated as federal routes, funded or partially funded, partially maintained or installed and, in many cases, never completed,” according to the Roadway Committee report.

The committee lists each road on St. John which is federally-funded and incomplete and “highly recommends that the completion of all federally-funded roads on St. John be undertaken.”

While the entire report details a number of issues and recommendations to improve St. John roads, the committee’s biggest concern is safety.

“It starts with roadway striping and signage,” said Gledhill. “The committee recognizes that many of the recommendations will require a long-term plan, but for the short-term, safety is the primary consideration.”