Members of the Virgin Islands Port Authority board of directors expressed concern about the progress of the Crown Bay dredging project on St. Thomas at their meeting Wednesday. Though no actions were taken on the project at the meeting, members discussed at length the steps needed to complete the dredging by the 2014 deadline set by cruise ship operators.
“We are probably already behind the eight ball when it comes to the schedule,” said board member Gordon Finch.
He said the authority still had not even defined the scope of work, let alone begun the permitting process or located financing.
The dredging project would deepen the area north of the pier in Crown Bay by about four feet to accommodate additional cruise ships. It is as yet unclear, however, the exact size of the area that would need to be dredged or the amount of spoils (dirt brought up from the bottom) that would need to be relocated or where it would go.
“Until we determine what the quantity is, we can never figure out what the cost is to go and borrow any money,” Finch said.
Finch said that the Maguire Group, the contractor currently surveying the project, should be working directly with the Army Corp of Engineers and the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources to ensure a smooth permitting process.
“We just don’t have the time to go through one iteration after another,” he cautioned, adding later, “Two years can go like that.”
If the dredging is not completed by October 2014, the territory stands to lose at least 27 cruise ship visits.
The issue led to a larger discussion on how the authority can better meet its deadlines and keep projects from falling through the cracks. Several board members bemoaned the lack of a single online schedule that could automatically remind them of when important dates were approaching.
One member suggested simply lumping all outstanding issues into an “old business” category that would be addressed at the beginning of every board meeting.
No decisions were made on the topic.
In other business, the board approved changes to two contracts with J. Benton Construction for work it is doing to convert existing space at the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport into additional area for Transportation Security Administration employees.
One contract to convert space within the terminal building into a break room, training room and IT space will be increased by $67,800 to accommodate additional security upgrades requested by the TSA and to fix a water leak caused by an abandoned exterior door.
The second contract to convert the old Avis rental car building into office space will be increased by $91,832, also to accommodate security upgrades requested by the TSA.
In both cases the TSA has promised to cover 80-90 percent of the additional cost.
The board also approved two contracts connected to the repaving and relighting of a taxiway at the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Croix.
The first contract awarded up to $624,711 to URS Caribe for engineering consulting services on the project and quality assurance testing. This was a renewal of a previous contract with the company for these services that had lapsed.
The second contract awarded $8,917,245 to Betterroads Asphalt Corporation to complete the paving and lighting work.