A new parking lot with 20-plus parking spaces at Maho Bay Beach is slated to open in the next couple of months, V.I. National Park Chief Ranger Lloyd Morris said.
“We’re waiting for supplies,” he said.
Maho Bay Beach, located on the North Shore Road, currently has no official parking spaces. Morris estimated that about 15 to 20 vehicles now park unofficially along the road. He said that in some spots, repeated parking has removed vegetation.
Once the new parking lot opens, Morris said parking on the beach side of the road will be prohibited. Parking will still be allowed on the inland side of the road, but as is the case at other beaches that suffer an overflow in their parking lots, the vehicle must have all four tires off the pavement.
Drivers who persist in parking with tires on the pavement face a $50 fine, Morris said.
While park rangers will attempt to locate the drivers of the offending vehicles so they can move their cars rather than get a ticket, a press release from the park indicates that is not always possible or feasible.
Morris suggested that beachgoers who find the parking lot at their intended beach filled move on to another beach or park where they can hike to a beach. He also urged them to take a taxi to the beach.
Park rangers continue to issue tickets to people who speed on the North Shore Road, also called Route 20. The speed limit is 20 mph, and Morris said that while the number of tickets, called citations in park talk, issued in the last month is down over the previous month, there are still some drivers who don’t obey the speed limit. He said the speeders are a combination of local residents and visitors.
“Delivery trucks, water trucks, food, and FedEx,” he said, ticking off a list of commercial vehicles that are in a hurry.
Some of those speeders were going more than 20 mph over the speed limit.
The new parking area at Maho Bay Beach and the crackdown on speeders are part of a larger program to improve safety at the park. Speeding increased as the North Shore Road paving project reached completion because the smooth pavement encouraged speeders. Morris said there were numerous near misses and complaints from walkers and joggers, hikers, bikers, and scooter riders. The park counted five serious vehicle accidents in the last eight months of 2010. Morris said four were caused by excessive speed.
The park has installed “traffic calming devices” such as new crosswalks, new parking areas and new signage in that effort.
Several months ago, the park added several parking spaces at the Jumbie Beach trailhead. Additionally, it installed speed bumps and Speed Bump Ahead signs on the North Shore Road.
In the next few weeks, crosswalks will be installed at Lind Point trailhead, Jumbie Beach trailhead, and Cinnamon Bay to further enhance pedestrian safety.
According to the press release, the V.I. Justice Department recently reaffirmed that park rangers have concurrent jurisdiction with the V.I. Police Department on the federal lands on St. John and have the authority to enforce traffic laws and issue citations under the Code of Federal Regulations.