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Public Works Takes the Heat for Truck Crash

May 2, 2008 — At a work site press conference Thursday, Commissioner of Public Works Darryl Smalls said his department took full responsibility for an accident this week involving a truck working on the Christiansted Bypass.
Shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday, a truck subcontracted by Christiansted bypass project general contractor Kirkland Construction sustained "what the Virgin Islands Police Department's preliminary investigation has revealed was a mechanical failure in the braking system," Smalls said, causing the truck to crash into a house and injure one person. The individual sustained minor injuries and was taken to the Juan Luis Hospital, treated and later released.
"I personally met with the occupant of the home … April 30, to offer my apologies for the accident," Smalls said. "And to assure them all resources required to repair or replace the damaged property will be provided
"We accept full responsibility for this accident."
Smalls went on to outline what Public Works is doing to address residents' concerns about dust, storm runoff, truck safety, blasting and other safety, environmental and quality of life issues.
Responding to complaints that dust was becoming airborne and creating health concerns, Smalls said more water was being sprayed to hold down the dust.
Police have stepped up safety inspections of the trucks, and the project engineer in charge has removed several truckers until they complete necessary repairs, he said. Excavated material will be stockpiled at a site near the Public Works offices and trucks will travel over Spring Gut Road rather than Lowry Hill Road, Smalls said. He also took the opportunity to announce that, effective immediately, all truck drivers taking excavated material out of the site must:
– demonstrate their vehicles comply with road-worthiness standards;
– adhere to posted speed limits;
– not overtake other vehicles;
– keep transported material covered at all times.
Public Works will continue to give written advanced notification of activities to print and radio media of any actions affecting the public such as water interruptions, road closures, detours and unusual amounts of blasting activity. Blasting had been reduced but has now resumed in the westernmost portion of the project, he said.
The Department of Planning and Natural Resources has outlined V.I. rules and regulations regarding runoff and has issued a storm water construction permit outlining accepted best practices to the contractor, he said, responding to residents' environmental concerns.
Smalls encouraged those with concerns about the project to call Public Works and tell his staff. They will document all of them and convey them to the contractor, Smalls said.
The excavation and drainage work that has created dust and heavy truck traffic is slated for completion in September, he said.
Smalls made himself available for questions, but rain soon ended the press conference.
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