April 10, 2006 – No one expected totally smooth sailing when Enighed Pond commercial port opened Monday on St. John, but with only one barge running instead of the usual four, traffic backed up. A long line of waiting vehicles stretched to the property's perimeter.
"I've been here since before eight," St. John resident Iris Kern said at 9:30 a.m.
Boyson Inc. had only the General running. Sherry Boynes-Jackson of Boyson Inc. said the company's other vessel was in scheduled dry dock.
V.I. Port Authority marine manager Maria Walters said Love City Car Ferry's Capt. Vic was undergoing Coast Guard inspection at Red Hook.
No one was quite sure why Global Marine wasn't running its Roanoke.
U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Chris Gagnon said later Monday that inspection began on the Capt. Vic last Wednesday but the Coast Guard found problems. He said the boat was scheduled for another inspection Monday.
He said the Capt. Vic passed the Monday inspection and should return to service.
No one answered the phone at Global Marine.
Kern said she planned to take the 8:30 a.m. barge, but was too far back in the line to get a space.
She said it looked like she was going to miss her scheduled 10 a.m. meeting on St. Thomas. She was also worried about getting home in the late afternoon.
Richard Austin of Putnam Station, N.Y., was trying to get to Cyril E. King Airport for a 2 p.m. flight. Austin, who said he owns a time share on St. John, had rented a car on St. Thomas. He said he bought a round trip ticket on the Capt. Vic, which he would not be able to use since the Capt. Vic wasn't running.
"Now we have to pay for another ticket," he said.
Austin worried that he would have to pay overtime charges on his rental car. He said he also would not be able to enjoy shopping and a leisurely lunch on St. Thomas before catching his flight.
"They need some regulation," Austin said of the ferry services.
Several people said they were confused about where to go. The Port Authority did not respond to requests last week for information on how and where vehicles were to line up.
A couple of people said they went first to the old location at the Creek in Cruz Bay but passersby told them about the change.
Walters said she would send someone over as soon as she could to put up a sign directing drivers to the new facility.
Several people said they went first to what turned out to be the exit gate.
Drivers exiting the barges leave by way of the gate on the road to Pond Mouth. Those boarding enter through the gate adjacent to the sewage treatment plant, located off Route 104.
Boynes-Jackson had stationed herself at the entrance to direct traffic. She had vehicles turn around so they had to drive backwards several hundred feet down the road to the barge ramp.
Although some waiting in line said they were worried about driving that distance in reverse, Boynes-Jackson said they should just take their time.
Signage was in very short supply. Around 9:30 a.m., a Port Authority crew arrived with a few exit signs they stood up in view of drivers coming off the barge.
Some people also spoke about the expected tie-ups when traffic, especially big trucks, exiting the facility encounter traffic trying to get into the facility.
"The intersection at the Texaco can't handle all that traffic," Chris Kobiella said.
However, a roundabout is expected to go in that area, with the Texaco Station relocating.
The Port Authority plans a grand opening celebration at 11 a.m. on April 21.
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