After a week of workshops on transportation and development, the community's stakeholders came back to the table with real, workable recommendations on how to alleviate traffic congestion and improve mobility on the roads of St. Thomas.
Many of the recommendations could be implemented immediately and for little or no capital outlay. But all would require the willingness of the community to set aside narrow, self serving considerations and make changes that would benefit everyone.
From satellite parking to downtown trolleys, to restricted turning lanes, to limited delivery times to "water buses" – each and every recommendation requires a change in behavior on the part of someone. The reward, however, could be a beautified and uncongested waterfront, with walking and biking paths along what some deem the most beautiful harbor in the world, and trees and landscaping around two of our historic treasures – Fort Christian and the Legislature Building.
The reward could also be uninterrupted business for waterfront retailers, far less frustration and road rage because traffic could flow evenly and smoothly through town, and a showpiece waterfront and historic district we all can be proud of.
The workshop was developed, in part, because of grave concerns over Plan 8, the highway extension plan currently on the table. It calls for a four-lane highway to be built out into the harbor, around the Legislature Building.
Traffic study after traffic study done elsewhere has concluded that widening roads does nothing to relieve traffic congestion. So, why, we must ask, would Plan 8 remain under consideration?
It seems to us that most of the community, with a few exceptions, opposes the plan that would potentially disrupt business downtown for years, end up in lengthy litigation over environmental issues and further separate the community from its harbor.
It's time to abandon this plan and get on with the real work of changed lifestyles and willingness to move into a new era of rational planning and implementation.
We sincerely hope that a few people holding fast to their own petty agendas will not be permitted to stand in the way of real planning and public involvement that will make St. Thomas appealing to the new generation of travelers interested in history, culture and environmentally pleasant surroundings.
We were delighted to hear Public Works Commissioner Harold Thompson Jr. repeat several times his commitment to community involvement in the planning of public projects.
We will hold him to that commitment.
Like St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce executive director Joe Aubain, we are sick and tired of plan after plan going by the wayside because of unwillingness of community elements to work together in a comprehensive approach that will serve everyone in the end. Our waterfront, after millions of dollars have been spent, is a disgrace.
We have seen a "grander vision" of what it could be – and now, nothing less will do.


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