Sept. 8, 2006 – The Virgin Islands Port Authority has made the decision to forego dredging of the north side of the Ann E. Abramson pier in Frederiksted. VIPA senior engineer Jeff Lawlor said the decision "will have no effect on cruise ships that can currently berth in Frederiksted."
The dredging, which began in March, was scheduled for completion Sept. 15. The authority approved the project in December 2004 and has been experiencing numerous setbacks involved with permitting, application approvals and incorrect information about the sea bed's condition.
Lawlor said he believes "extreme environmental conditions may cause the wrap-up of the project to be pushed back to possibly the end of September."
V.I. Cement and Building Products has been contracted to complete the project and places the date of completion around the middle of September.
The Port Authority originally planned to remove 25,000 cubic yards of sand and rubble on the north side and 22,000 cubic yards on the south side, to a width of 200 feet on each side.
Once the dredging of the south side of the pier has been completed, the equipment will be shipped to St. Thomas to complete the Crown Bay dredging, where ultra voyager-class cruise ships have already been scheduled to dock in December.
Currently there are a limited number of ultra voyager-class cruise ships in the world, according to Lawlor. "The decision to dredge the north side of the pier is still pending for the long-term," he said.
The sea bed is to be dredged to 37 feet below mean sea level, providing 5 to 6 feet of room under the ships. The south side of the pier is currently on the last pass of the dredging process, Lawlor said. The equipment dredges the sea bed from the top of one row to the bottom and back to the top of the next row and back again.
Lawlor explained the authority's decision: "It would be premature to prepare for two [voyager class] cruise ships berthing side by side when there are no plans in St. Croix for any ships."
The north side of the pier is currently able to accommodate all ships except the very small number of ultra voyager-class ships already in business.
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