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Cruz Bay
Tuesday, April 23, 2024


March 1, 2002 – The Enighed Pond commercial port project could be completed by the end of 2003, Port Authority planner Darlan Brin said Friday at a meeting of the Rotary Club of St. John.
"I hope the next time I come back, the project is started," he said, drawing laughter from the 16 people attending the meeting at the Westin Resort. The project, which is expected to help relieve the massive traffic congestion that plagues Cruz Bay, has been in the works for more than 30 years.
Brin said the Federal Highway Administration gave its approval on Jan. 10 for the territory to use GARVEE bonds to fund the project. He provided copies of a letter from FHA division administrator J. Don Martinez to Public Works Commissioner Wayne Callwood stating the FHA's approval of floating bonds worth $21.2 million for the Enighed Pond project and $3.3 million for passenger terminal and cargo facility improvements at Red Hook on St. Thomas.
The Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles, or GARVEE bonds, allow the government to start the project without the money in hand because it will pay the principal and associated costs of the bond out of the yearly $12.5 million the government gets from the Federal Highway Administration.
The FHA imposed some conditions in approving the use of GARVEE bonds, including a revision in the "request for proposal" forms. However, Brin said he does not expect the FHA to cause any delay in the project. He said he anticipates that the requests for proposals will go out within the next couple of months. The successful bidder will have a year and a half in which to complete the project, which is termed "design/build," meaning the same company that designs the project will build it.
Preliminary work on the project has already begun. A Port Authority contractor has transplanted 10 percent of the coral growing in an area that needs to be dredged in order to create a channel at the mouth of Enighed Pond, Brin said. "Once that's successful, the remaining corals will be moved," he said.
According to Brin, similar transplant projects have had a 90 percent success rate, and one undertaken at the Ann Abramson Pier in Frederiksted was 99 percent successful.
Creating the channel also will involve removing a berm at the mouth of the pond which currently allows only a minimal amount of water to flow into the pond.
A few of the Rotary members and guests had questions for Brin at the end of his presentation.
Doug White asked whether the road improvement project would be completed at the same time as the commercial port project. Brin did not have a concrete answer, but he said that if commercial port activity moves from the Creek to the other side of Cruz Bay at Enighed Pond, road improvements will be necessary. The access road will run up past the public tennis courts and the fire station to intersect with Route 104 near the Texaco gas station.
The Port Authority plans to have all freight activities, including vehicular barges, enter and leave St. John through Enighed Pond, freeing up the Creek for other uses. "We'll come up with a plan for the reuse of the Creek," Brin said.
Rotary guest Bob Carney suggested that boats visiting St. John from the British Virgin Islands be allowed to tie up to the Creek bulkhead so their passengers could shop in Cruz Bay. "There's a tremendous demand," he said.
Planning for the Enighed project began in 1971. In 1985, the Port Authority anticipated that it would cost about $4 million and was expecting to start construction by the end of that year. However, numerous obstacles stood in the way, including a wrangle between the V.I. government and the Port Authority over ownership of the land that was decided by the Legislature in favor of the Port Authority.
Once that was resolved, the Port Authority in 1989 secured the required Coastal Zone Management permit, which was subsequently extended multiple times. Meantime, in took several years for the authority to secure the required U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit, which is valid until Nov. 3, 2004. The project now is expected to cost $16 million.

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