U.S. Customs and Border Protection clearance at VIPA’s seaports in St. John has been a major challenge since the hurricanes last September because most of VIPA’s marine facilities in Cruz Bay were destroyed. However, temporary arrangements have been made to bring some relief to mariners. Starting on the week of June 4, Customs will clear pleasure-craft vessels at the Victor Sewer Marine Facility (The Creek) in Cruz Bay.
VIPA’s board also approved the construction of a temporary U.S. Customs checkpoint inside the Urman Fredericks Marine Terminal in Red Hook, St. Thomas to provide screening for foreign arrival passenger ferries. This project was delayed due to issues with a previous contractor. VIPA has since re-bid the project and received the bids on May 18. Construction will take four weeks to complete and the temporary checkpoint should be operational by July 2018. All foreign arrival passenger ferries will continue to clear Customs at the Edward Blyden Marine terminal in St. Thomas until the temporary checkpoint at the Red Hook terminal is built.
Other ongoing VIPA port improvement projects include:
- The two-level parking garage at the Urman Fredericks Terminal in Red Hook is expected to be completed by August 2018.
- Designs for a new air cargo facility at HERA and a new marine terminal building for the Containerport on St. Croix have been submitted to VIPA for review.
- VIPA is working closely with the US Army Corps of Engineers to determine when the permit for the dredging of the Schooner Bay Channel will be issued. This dredging will allow mini-cruise and other luxury vessels to berth at Gallows Bay in Christiansted, St. Croix.
- The Port Authority has applied to the Department of Planning and Natural Resources’ Coastal Zone Management Commission to dredge approximately 232,000 cubic yards of material from the Charlotte Amalie Harbor. This dredging will be funded by federal monies obtained by the Government of the Virgin Islands and will allow Oasis-class vessels to berth at the West Indian Company Dock in Havensight, St. Thomas.