ST THOMAS, USVI — All of the primary roads in the US Virgin Islands will be completely rebuilt to US Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Highway standards, Governor Kenneth Mapp announced on Tuesday.
For the first time in history, a full assessment of the territory’s 1,273-mile public road system was conducted in order to determine conditions after the storms and the estimated cost of a comprehensive rebuilding and repair program.
After completion of the assessment, the Department of Public Works, with the assistance of the US Army Corps of Engineers and Witt O’Brien’s, concluded it will cost $1.2 billion to bring all US Virgin Islands’ public roads up to DOT standards, Mapp said at Tuesday morning’s news conference.
“In three to five years our road system will be essentially unrecognizable from what it is today,” Mapp said. “I am committed to working to modernize our roads and thoroughfares so that potholes and other road issues become experiences of the past.”
As of today, $530 million has been approved and will be invested into the first phase of construction of modern roads and highways across all four islands.
The new roads will be upgraded with proper foundations and drainage and outfitted with American Disabilities Act certified sidewalks, reflectors, traffic signals, and crosswalks, Mapp reported. They will also accommodate water, sewage, and power lines, fiber optic cables, and will be suitable for various other communication systems. New street signs will be lit at night with the Department of Tourism’s logo of the moko jumbie at the center.
In addition to reconstructing the road systems, $10 million from the CDBG will be set aside to remove all the dumpsters off the roads so that refuse centers can be constructed.
This massive undertaking will require a number of additional engineers and project managers.
“We are essentially launching a new Highway Division at Public Works and we will need a lot more staff,” the governor said.
He said it was important to note that some roads would receive temporary fixes until they can be fully reconstructed and that there will be many areas where Public Works will authorize asphalt overlays until permanent construction can begin.