Oranjestad, St. Eustatius – The Public Entity of St. Eustatius will soon commence with the renovation of the hairpin bend at Smoke Ally, that connects Lower and Upper Town Oranjestad. The main access road to and from the port of Statia, the hairpin bend at Smoke Alley specifically, is currently in poor condition. The concrete has reached the end of its life span. Erosion caused by heavy rainfall and lack of regular maintenance has the road’s surface showing multiple cracks and holes. This project is expected to start in July of this year. After the road improvement project in Cherry Tree and Road to Jeems areas, prior to the much-needed renovation of the access road, work will start in July 2020. As the road is a vital supply line for the island, managing traffic from and to the port is a challenge encountered in the phasing of the project. “We are in close contact with businesses that rely on heavy transport from the harbor, including GTI and shop owners, to safeguard supply lines”, states Government Commissioner Marnix van Rij.
After completion, the road will meet safety standards for all types of vehicles. Currently, large amounts of rainwater come down the road. This water will be collected at the top of the hill instead of flowing down into the ocean, limiting erosion and damage to the coral system.
The road will be rebuilt using concrete. An alternative using asphalt is not a viable option, as asphalt cannot be maintained with equipment available on the island. The outer historical wall in the bend will be restored. In the final stage, traffic lines will be placed.
Phasing is necessary to work sequentially on parts of the road, by means of a half lane closure. Several phasing options were examined. Based on results, it was decided that all vehicles up to two meters wide, should be able to pass at all times with the help of traffic lights and traffic controllers. Vehicles wider than two meters and heavy transport with (20 and 40 ft) containers can use the road every 2 weeks on Tuesday and Wednesday. This will allow for a fixed window for transport of fresh products and other supplies. An extra cooling container can be installed in the port, to make sure fresh goods can be preserved, in case the transportation comes to an unexpected halt.
If necessary, emergency services can always reach Lower Town. For trucks of the fire brigade exceptions will be made when there is an emergency. Damage expected to the new road in this scenario, will have to be repaired.
A construction site will be set up inside GTI Statia property, primarily using shipping containers. The Public Entity of St. Eustatius has been granted permission to use the area temporarily. After completion, the containers will be removed. Construction is planned to start in July 2020 and should take up to 6 months, depending on the supply of building materials and COVID19 response measures.
Statia Roads and Construction BV has been contracted for the project. The costs are approximately $ 1.000.000, -. The project is financed by the Public Entity of St. Eustatius, with backing from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and will be realized in close cooperation with Rijkswaterstaat.