Route 107 ends at mile marker 4.6, at left, but cars can traverse another 1.5 miles on V.I. National Park land.
On the heels of a well-attended town hall meeting last month, community activist Alvis Christian is determined to see a second access route opened from the remote south shore of St. John, and he is not alone.
“I have been speaking with different people and hearing how they feel about opening a road out to Estate Mandahl,” said Christian, founder of John’s Folly Learning Institute.
Currently the sole road access to Estate John’s Folly, Mandahl and Lameshur is via Route 107, which abruptly ends just after Salt Pond Bay in Estate Mandahl. In order to drive back to Cruz Bay one must turn around and travel back through Coral Bay along Route 107.
The response time for emergency vehicles from Cruz Bay to Estate Mandahl could easily close in on an hour. Also with the sole access road being Centerline Road, if anything happens to wash the road out – which has occurred in the past – citizens on the south shore would be stranded, residents discussed at a June town meeting.
At that late June town hall meeting, co-hosted by Delroy “Ital” Anthony and Christian, a large crowd of residents remembered days when one could travel from Mandahl all the way to Estate Fish Bay or to Centerline Road via the L’Esperance Trail, located near Estate Catherinberg.
Most residents, however, want to see Route 107 connect to Route 108, near Bordeaux Mountain, according to Christian.
“I have been speaking to a lot of different groups of people and I think the route that most everyone feels comfortable with is connecting Route 107 to 108 up the hill to Bordeaux,” Christian said. “Out of all of the roads which have been discussed, this route is the shortest distance and in terms of cost would take the least amount of money.”
The distance from the end of Route 107 to 108 is 2.7 miles, the shortest route to open by far of the three possibilities discussed. And the route is actually even shorter, since another 1.5 miles can be accessed via the V.I. National Park road to Lameshur Bay, which means only about 1.2 miles of roadway will need to be paved, Christian explained.
Both Route 107 and Route 108, which is often referred to Costanzo Hill and joins Bordeaux Road, are federally designated roadways, Christian added.
“Both 107 and 108 are federal roads which means there should be federal dollars for the project,” he said.
The area from Lameshur to Bordeaux also is not as sensitive as other areas which were discussed for possible alternative routes from the south shore, Christian added.
“Even though some of the road will go through the National Park, that area is not as sensitive as going through Reef Bay,” said Christian.
Next Christian planned to meet with V.I. National Park and Department of Public Works officials about opening new roads and repairing damaged areas of the current sole access route, Centerline Road, this week.
“The next step is for me to speak with VINP and Public Works to hear what they have to say,” Christian said. “I’ve heard that work on Centerline Road is supposed to start next month. But we are getting very close to September and the height of hurricane season so we can’t be posturing on this.”
“We could find ourselves in a lot of trouble with Centerline Road,” said Christian. “We have to pressure Public Works to move on that, we need that road fixed and beefed up.”
The issue of opening a second access route to the south shore neighborhoods has been discussed for years, yet this time, residents want to see action, Christian explained.
“I really don’t see where any problems could arise with this route,” he said. “I think it would be very, very hard for the National Park to say no to this. We need that road.”
“We’ve been talking about this way too long,” said Christian. “We have to go all the way here and put them at a point where they won’t just talk about this, but open the road.”