In its efforts to assist in alleviating the traffic situation in Cole Bay/ Simpson Bay, the SHTA met with Kurt Ruan of ROB and Claudio Buitenhuis of Windward Roads to reiterate concerns raised during its meeting with traffic police regarding the disastrous impact on the business community and the damage created to destination St. Maarten due to the huge influx of negative ratings on various social networks.
Ruan informed that the goal of all these road works is to upgrade the infrastructure, which is +/- 30 years behind schedule, to include sewage lines and drainage systems. This is a necessary step towards improving the quality of life of our residents, he said.
In order to ease the burden on the community, Buitenhuis explained that they only use the excavators between 9 pm and 7 am when there is least traffic and have also assigned some construction workers to assist in directing traffic. He also informed that by the end of next week, the sewage lines will have been placed and the roads filled in, which should stop people from slowing down to look at the work being carried out; that should improve the traffic flow.
SHTA, Ruan and Buitenhuis then went over various rerouting options, after which Ruan agreed to reopen the Union Road to two way traffic for a period to see if it will improve the flow of traffic. He hoped to have it reopened by Wednesday morning pending discussions with the traffic police, because an officer would have to be placed at the Union Road- Orange Grove junction to direct traffic.
SHTA asked to be included in the planning stages moving forward and requested an update on the schedule of the current and future road works. Ruan informed that the current construction is on schedule to be completed in 8 weeks on December 9th after which the Waterfront Road will be worked on. After the high Tourist Season, the remainder of Welfare road will be addressed followed by another large project (in planning) for the Union Road.
In short, the SHTA would like to appeal to the community in general for calm and patience during this extremely frustrating period. The organization will work with the Tourism Office to counteract some of the negative reporting on the internet social networks by explaining that this period of growing pains will come to an end and will provide the Dutch side of the island with much needed infrastructure upgrades that will benefit not only our tourism product, but also the quality of life for the public in general.