UPDATE BY MINISTER FOR TRANSPORTATION, WORK AND UTILITIES
HONOURABLE KYE RYMER
AT THE ELEVENTH SITTING OF THE THIRD SESSION
OF THE FOURTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
CRITICAL ROAD INFRASTRUCUTRE WORKS BEING EXECUTED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE RECOVERY AND DEVELOPMENT AGENCY
Thursday 12th August, 2021
Mister Speaker, since taking office, I have made it an absolute priority to improve the road infrastructure across the Virgin Islands, starting with the most vulnerable sites.
I, therefore, take this opportunity to update this Honourable House and the people of the Virgin Islands on the status of our various road infrastructure projects financed under the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Loan facility. I will also give an update on Government’s ongoing post-2017 National Road Reconstruction Programme.
Mister Speaker, before I give the updates, I wish to thank the people of the Virgin Islands for their patience and cooperation as major road works were carried out on frequently traversed areas.
I agree it has been a long and sometimes frustrating process, but a necessary process because your Government is not about quick fixes but is committed to building a strong, resilient, safe road network through proper designs, construction, and regular maintenance.
I want to reassure the public that my team at the Ministry and the Recovery and Development Agency (which is under the Premier’s Office) and the various contractors worked expeditiously to complete these projects as quickly as possible without compromising quality and public safety while trying to minimise traffic disruptions.
I can report with much admiration that together, we have been able to substantively complete six out of the eight road rehabilitation projects. The Great Mountain Road fully reopened in May, and motorists have been traversing this area safely.
They have been assured that flooding and landslide issues have been significantly curtailed following the installation of retaining wall structures and a massive culvert, increasing the drainage capacity.
The once ‘blind’ corner has been substantially widened, and the road gradient reduced, providing a much safer and enjoyable driving experience. The last stage of this project is asphalting, which will commence this month, and the public will receive regular updates as this process starts.
The four road construction sites along the ridge road have also been completed. The Hope Hill – Sabbath Hill section of road was seriously undermined after hurricanes Irma and Maria and the 2017 floods and has been fully rehabilitated since March this year. In barring the installation of the final section of steel barrier, the Little Dix Hill Road project is also complete with a more robust drainage system to manage the plethora of run-off that can occur during the rainy season. This area will also be fully asphalted this month, creating a seamless transition between the old road surfaces and the recently repaired ones.
The retaining wall structure and drainage works have been completed for the Bob’s Gas Station Road project in the 6th District. However, the contractor will continue working to ensure that the new culvert connection to the existing system is adequate. Once the coverings for the drains have been installed along with additional slope stabilisation features, this project will be 100% complete. This is expected within the next month. Due to COVID-19 restrictions worldwide, there has been a delay in procuring the steel for the construction of the drain overlays.
The Ballast Bay Road Project in the 2nd District was a mammoth engineering and construction achievement for the BVI, which took months to complete. I am elated to report the project is 100% complete, and the road has been opened since April.
The guard rails have also been completed providing a safer motoring experience.
I want to thank the residents of this area for their support and understanding during construction. The 33-by-13-foot culvert is more than adequate to handle water from the ghut, and the culvert has been significantly widened to accommodate two vehicles comfortably. With the retaining wall and road reinstated, Ballast Bay residents can now access their homes from Cane Garden Bay entrance. The area of road is also earmarked under the asphalt programme commencing shortly.
The Long Trench Road contract has been awarded and was signed on Tuesday 10th August. Therefore, this project will commence this month and will involve the construction of two (2) retaining wall structures.
Our biggest road project to date will be commencing in September this year. Over the last couple of months, I have received numerous complaints about the condition of the Fish Bay Road, which has been in disrepair for years. I am happy to announce that this area will receive complete road rehabilitation.
We are currently finalising the CDB approvals for the contractor. We left this project for last since it will be the most disruptive, and we wanted to ensure that the ridge road and Bobs Gas Station Road projects were complete since these are also main arteries into Road Town.
Mister Speaker, permit me to highlight some of the intricacies of this project so that the public can, from the onset, appreciate its scale and complexity. Apart from resurfacing the road from PG Gas Station to D&B Trucking, the drainage system will be significantly improved to manage the voluminous run-off from the hillside, including any debris.
You will recall that this is a high flood-prone area. Therefore, we have estimated that by replacing and increasing the capacity of the main culvert ten-fold, it will be able to handle forecasted increases in rainfall over the next 25 years.
Given the complexity of this road project there, will be disruptions during construction; however, my Ministry, the RDA, the Road Consultant, and the contractor will be working very closely to manage these and ensure the public is kept abreast as the project progresses.
Very shortly, the Ministry and the RDA will speak with residents and the business community in the area to sensitise them of the project and its impacts and listen to any concerns.
Additionally, the RDA will be releasing a series of public service announcements to commence the communications campaign geared towards the public. We have learned from the execution of other road works, particularly the importance of regular communication with the public.
Mister Speaker, let me reiterate there will be traffic disruptions during this period, and the community and motorists will be inconvenienced, but unfortunately, these are the pains associated with progress.
Nonetheless, at the end of this, we will be further ahead in our quest to build a stronger, better and more resilient road network for generations to come. I want to thank the public again for their support and patience during this phase of our development.
In addition to road reconstruction, I want to report that we have also been working on improving water storage facilities throughout Tortola.
The Carrot Bay and Long Bush reservoirs have been rebuilt and are now commissioned. The Zion Hill reservoir was recently demolished, and a bigger and more resilient structure is in the process of being constructed. With these new reservoirs, the Water and Sewerage Department will have greater storage capacity, which will assist in dealing with some of the water issues that have plagued the Territory.