After V.I. Department of Public Works (DPW) Commissioner Darryl Smalls informed a V.I. Senate Committee hearing that the contract for the Cruz Bay roundabout should be awarded in April, two St. Johnian community leaders testified that the project should be reconsidered.
“I can’t imagine seeing this big circle in Cruz Bay, I’m very troubled by it,” said former Senator at Large Robert O’Connor Jr. “I just don’t see it.”
O’Connor admitted he previously withheld comment on the proposal which took his Texaco gas station because he didn’t want to be accused of having ulterior motives.
“I believe we should explore alternatives,” O’Connor said of his opposition one month before the contract for the long-awaited project is expected to be awarded. “I just cannot not say something about it.”
“I was hoping a new planner could come in” and stop it, O’Connor continued. “I just can’t see it.”
“Is a circle there conducive to the community?” asked O’Connor who also questioned whether there was enough space for a roundabout which could handle large trucks or if it would be undersized.
“You will be able to drive up on this roundabout,” explained DPW Commissioner Darryl Smalls.
“Sometimes we do plan wrong,” O’Connor added. “Sometimes we build bridges and they fall down.”
“It is possible to avoid a disaster,” said the former chairman of the V.I. Port Authority.
“It’s a done deal,” said Smalls during a recess.
Another St. Johnian took up the question of the roundabout in a later round of testimony.
“In the event that this plan fails, as my uncle warned, are you going to be man enough to admit it,” Abigail Hendricks asked Commissioner Smalls.
“We don’t plan to fail, any adjustments can be done,” Smalls responded.
“We’re the ones that are going to be left with this disaster,” Hendricks continued. “We want to make sure we are not stuck with a bridge to nowhere.”
Public Chose Roundabout
Senator at Large Carmen Miranda Wesselhoff asked Smalls if there were any other suggestions or plans for the intersection.
“The people of St. John were involved,” Smalls asserted.
St. John DPW Deputy Director Ira Wade said the public participated in two hearings which discussed four different alternatives: signalization (traffic lights); stop signs; roundabout and status quo.
“The first plan they knocked down,” Wade said. “The group that was here that particular night chose the traffic roundabout.”
“It was not Public Works that decided, it was the residents that visited that night,” Wade continued. “It was the people who chose.”