Cruz Bay will be soon going through some massive changes as a result of a decision to build a roundabout in the area of the existing Texaco station. On July 9, the Texaco station will shut down.
Currently, the Cruz Bay area has only two gas stations and even now, one or the other will run out of fuel. To leave the Cruz Bay area without two gas stations is tantamount to creating havoc.
The start of construction of the round about will take place on or about February of 2008 and is scheduled to be complete on February 2010. This will be two and a half years of construction at the busiest intersection on St John, assuming all goes as planned. In the interim, drivers can expect massive delays and bottlenecks even though the plan calls for several phases which supposed to alleviate congestion to the greatest extent possible.
The several departments who will be over-seeing this project were present at the Legislature Building on St John on Thursday June 21and gave a very good description of the project. This public hearing was a great way for people to give their opinions and the presenters did a fine job of explaining the project. Several residents asked pertinent questions and were answered truthfully and with candor. From the outset of the meeting, the panel asked that the residents have input and we are hoping that the suggestions made will be addressed.
I believe that the primary issue is fuel. Because we have two gas stations now, we have a fair amount of access to fuel. By removing one station, we will have about one-half the capacity needed to fuel the current number of vehicles in the Cruz Bay area. This includes diesel and gasoline for many commercial vehicles and for emergency vehicles as well. There is some reserve fuel kept by the government but this fuel may not be available to the private passenger vehicles and the many construction vehicles that use up a large amount of the available fuel on St John.
I asked at the meeting if there was any plan to build a new station. The answer was that it was a private, entrepreneurial venture and not in the parameters of the round about project. The fact that the existing Texaco station was taken by expropriation to accomplish the project should have given the government cause to seek alternative locations. There were some assurances that this was done and we hope that a new station will be up and running soon. The fact that it takes a very long time to find the land, get the permits, get approval for storage of fuel and then to actually build the structure is a concern. It could take over a year in a perfect world. By that time, we will already have long lines at the one station remaining in Cruz Bay, shortages of fuel, massive traffic back-ups and generally chaos.
We know that the project has to get done because it is federal money and we don't want to lose it like we lose so many other funds. Yes, the round about will ease traffic flow once completed but the same money, if used in another way, could have made it possible to alleviate traffic in Cruz Bay by building alternative routes around Cruz Bay proper.
The time is now to start thinking long term.
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