Leaks in the new roof, a costly gut project and delays in the relocation of Transportation Security Administration equipment at Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas dominated a recent Port Authority board meeting.
The roof leaks, in particular, raised the ire of board member Celestino A. White Sr., who noted the issue has been ongoing since May.
“And still today you are talking about leaks, leaks, leaks at Cyril King,” White told Paul Dougherty, program director for Lemartec, the construction management firm in charge of the Port Authority’s many projects in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.
“What is that contractor using – duct tape or Gorilla Glue?” White asked Dougherty at the meeting, held Wednesday via Zoom. “September is right around the corner and you cannot continue to not have the sub-contractor perform.”
The original sub-contractor has not been on the island for a couple of months, Dougherty said, with COVID-19 partly to blame after members of the crew became infected. He has selected an alternative company, Dougherty said, adding, “I will use the one that’s needed to get it done.”
Similar issues are hampering the demobilization of Transportation Security Administration X-ray equipment that was moved to accommodate repairs and expansion at the airport. Director of Engineering Damian Cartwright said COVID-19 is now impacting the ability of the federal government to bring in personnel to demobilize the equipment so that it can be moved from Checkpoint A to Checkpoint B.
The issue has been ongoing for months and needs to be taken to the federal level, said board member and Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte. He said TSA is “using COVID as a crutch” and suggested enlisting the help of Delegate Stacey Plaskett.
“We cannot be allowed to have the major airport in the territory held hostage,” said Boschulte.
“We can’t force the TSA to bring in people,” Executive Director Carlton Dowe told the board. “They tell us plain out that we have to wait.”
Cartwright, however, said the expansion of Checkpoint B is almost complete and that any delays in dismantling Checkpoint A are not key to moving people through the airport. “This doesn’t have an impact on processing passengers,” he told the board.
During the meeting the board also approved a contract worth $524,337 for cleaning and stabilization of the general aviation gut and bank off Runway B at King Airport, to be funded through a CARES Act grant.
“This ain’t just a ‘gut’ gut,” Dowe said in an explanation of the price tag. “This runs the gamut of the whole airport runway,” and is so large that heavy equipment can fit inside of it. “This is a compliance issue” subject to Federal Aviation Administration fines, he said.
SSVI Expert Builders LLC came in with the lowest bid and was awarded the contract to clear the gut of vegetation and line it with black plastic sheeting and boulders to prevent any regrowth.
In other business, the board approved a bid of $1.05 million for dredging 12,000 cubic yards of material at the Gordon A. Finch Molasses Pier on St. Croix to create berths to moor two vessels simultaneously at the new roll on/roll off ramp under construction.
The work was initially to include dredging the Krause Lagoon Channel, but due to the impact of COVID-19 on its marine revenues, the Port Authority can only afford to fund the work at the Molasses Pier, which is the more critical of the two projects, according to a staff summary.
Vivot Equipment Corp. was the sole bidder, but Cartwright told the board that the cost “is actually extremely competitive,” as Vivot is the only dredging company in the territory with equipment already on the island. The cost of the work will be covered by fiscal year 2021 revenues, Port Authority insurance proceeds and a U.S. Department of Transportation Marine Administration grant.
Among a slew of monthly project updates:
– Thermal camera temperature monitoring for domestic arrivals is complete and in use at both King Airport on St. Thomas and Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix.
– The St. John Customs and Border Protection building is complete and ready for occupancy.
– The Enighed Pond gravel parking lot on St. John is approximately 95 percent complete and is awaiting ticket booth equipment by Inter Caribbean this month. The parking lot opened on July 1.
– The VIPA administration building is complete, with the first and second floors occupied by staff and the third floor ready for move-in.
– The Sandfill Administrative Building project has been halted due to COVID-19 as the installers of the modular unit are still unable to travel. VIPA is awaiting a new travel date, but the building is ready to be shipped to the port of West Palm Beach, Florida, after which it should arrive on St. Thomas within 30 days.
– New seating in the waiting areas at King Airport and Rohlsen Airport is 90 percent complete, with charging stations waiting to be energized.
– Mold remediation at King Airport is ongoing, with mold remediation at Rohlsen Airport 53 percent complete.
– Demolition of the old Marriott Food Service Building at Rohlsen Airport is underway. Work commenced on June 27. Additional debris is being removed from the perimeter and interior of the building along with minor interior demolition of walls and columns. The contractor brought heavy equipment on-site on Aug. 3 to begin demolition.
– The St. Croix Marine Cargo building is expected to be completed by March.
– Repairs to the Texaco Office and Texaco Warehouse on St. Croix are expected to begin this month.
– The Red Hook parking lot expansion is expected to be complete by Aug. 30, with minor punch-list items to resolve.
– Permitting issues have been resolved and testing and driving of cores have been completed for the Red Hook Customs building.
– Americans with Disabilities Act projects at the Edward Wilmoth Blyden IV Marine Terminal on St. Thomas, including an access ramp and renovation of the bathrooms, are 95 percent complete, with project close-out slated for Sept. 30.
– The Purchasing Building at King Airport is expected to be completed by January.
– The roof has been replaced and interior work completed at the Windmill building at Crown Bay, and the building is ready to be occupied.
– Hurricane damage repairs at Lindbergh Bay Park are ongoing, with expected completion in September. VIPA is identifying additional improvements that were not a part of the original scope of work.