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(Monday, November 05, 2012)


           The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority began mobilizing for Phase II of the Christiansted Underground Project today on St. Croix. Executive Director Hugo V. Hodge Jr. said the goal of the underground project is to increase service reliability in the town area. Undergrounding will also reduce the destruction and lengthy restoration process of Christiansted’s electrical distribution system in the event of a hurricane or other major events. Phase I, completed in 2010 as the beginning of the utility’s larger mitigation concept for its underground electrical system, consisted of the construction of an electrical duct back from the Richmond Substation to the intersection of Prince and Fisher Streets. “The system has been working commendably,” Hodge said.  

J. Benton Construction, LLC begins mobilization today at the intersection of Strand and Prince Streets (near the Scotia Bank parking lot), and will continue along Strand Street. Work will then continue from the intersection of King and Prince Streets, down King Street and Market Street; then from the intersection of King and Prince Streets, down to Church Street. Work will then proceed at the intersection of Company and Prince Streets, and progress on to Company Street down to Market Street. The final portion of the phase II project will be from the intersection of Company and Prince Streets, down to Church Street. For the first several weeks of Phase II, work will be done in two shifts, lasting from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. Contractors will perform work involving heavy machinery during the morning and afternoon hours, leaving the evenings for the laying of conduits and covering of the trenches. However, the Authority has budgeted for the majority of phase II work to be completed during the evening and night hours. 

Work will be suspended on Election Day, Nov. 6, allowing voters to traverse freely on Strand Street to get to the polls. During this first week of the project, the Government Parking Lot can be accessed from the Watergut Road. Throughout the project, plans have been made to minimize inconvenience to foot and vehicular traffic in Christiansted and to provide easy access to all offices and businesses during their operating hours. The Authority will continue to update the public of the schedule as work progresses from street to street. Residents are urged to register at, as it will be one of the Authority’s outlets used to update the community as construction progresses. You can also access this information on WAPA’s website at

Each leg of the project should be finished within 2 month time periods, while the entire Phase II Underground Project is expected to be completed by March of 2013. The installation of underground ducts and electrical cables in Christiansted will be completed in three phases. Phase I, completed in 2010, serves as the backbone for future projects to remove the aerial system in Christiansted. Phase II includes underground line installation on Strand, King, and Company Streets, and Phase III will include Queen, Hill, East and Fisher Streets in Christiansted town.

The phase II portion of the project, which is funded by several federal grants and requires a 75/25 percent cost share between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and WAPA, has a total price tag of approximately $2 million. WAPA’s 25% of the cost share is funded by customer payments into the Self-Insurance and Hazard Mitigation Fund. This was established in 1994 to help minimize the potential impact of natural disasters on the electrical system and to initiate immediate restoration of the system should there be a delay or absence of federal funds during disaster restoration. The customer surcharge was eliminated in February 2006 when the fund reached its approved limit of $8 million. WAPA currently has undergrounding projects in Market Square, St. Thomas and from Estate Richmond to the proposed Midland Substation in Estate Spanish Town, St. Croix. On St. Thomas and St. Croix, underground lines already serve customers from the power plants to the hospitals and the airports.

The Authority appreciates the public’s patience during this major capital improvement project to better serve the people of the Virgin Islands.