The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved the Virgin Islands Port Authority’s permit application to build a new U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility in Red Hook, St. Thomas, according to Virgin Islands Port Authority Executive Director Carlton Dowe.
The new building will be located at the Urman V. Fredericks Marine Terminal. Once the facility comes online it will eliminate the need for residents and visitors arriving from the British Virgin Islands to stop in St. John to clear customs before traveling to St. Thomas. This will significantly reduce travel time between the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. The UVF Marine Facility is the Port Authority’s busiest ferry port and processes about 290,000 travelers between the USVI and the BVI, annually.
The project entails demolishing an old pier at the Urman V. Fredericks Marine Terminal. VIPA will then build a 2,376 square-foot, two-story CBP building and a 4,040 square-foot pier. The project also involves dredging 36 yards of material. The new facility is primarily funded via bond financing attained by VIPA in 2014.
Bids should be issued early in January 2020. Dowe expects construction to begin by the second quarter of 2020 and be completed in 18 months. Capt. Matthew Berry, VIPA marine manager, has held pre-construction meetings with ferry operators, taxi drivers and the terminal’s tenants to ensure that travel and operations at the facility will not be significantly impacted during the construction phase of the project.