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Simpson Bay Traffic #218225
02/20/2020 04:20 PM
02/20/2020 04:20 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 5,868
New England (home), St. Maarte...
jmbcomms Offline OP
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jmbcomms  Offline OP
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Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 5,868
New England (home), St. Maarte...
I sent this to the Daily Herald almost three weeks ago. Not sure why they never published it -- maybe too long, "not invented here," whatever -- no response. It does offer suggestions for the perennial traffic mess in Simpson Bay.

Here it is:

Is This How We Want to Greet Tourists?

As a “retiree,” for the last few years I’ve spent winters here in SXM, escaping brutal Massachusetts winter weather. At home in Massachusetts, I’ve spent many hours chairing appointed committees charged with overseeing and improving various elements of town government. It’s in that spirit of helpfulness that I submit a few random ideas here to help make SXM work better for residents and visitors.

At 3pm Monday afternoon, a bus broke down on “the hill.” I left Beacon Hill at 4:45 to get to an event in the Belair area at 6 pm. At 5:20, I called “ERB” at Island92 radio to ask why the traffic was unusually bad. He told me about the bus, and it quickly became obvious that getting to the Belair area by 6:00 pm was beyond hopeless. I returned to the place where I’m staying to write this letter…

Remember a few weeks ago when a cement truck overturned near the roundabout at SMMC? It created a historic traffic apocalypse that had traffic stopped dead all the way back to Cupecoy Beach. At home in high traffic areas, tow trucks with two-way radios are stationed so they can respond at once to incidents that threaten the smooth flow of traffic. Accidents on or near the hill or southbound toward PBurg are a serious public safety issue since they can and do hinder the ability of emergency vehicles to get where they need to go in a hurry. They’re also a serious problem for the country’s single-pillar tourism economy: for years, tourists who have turned away from SXM have cited its road network, congestion, and poor road maintenance as reasons for not returning to the island.

I have several suggestions related to helping move traffic through Simpson Bay toward Philipsburg every afternoon and toward other tourist-related issues:

The first is simply placing a police radio-equipped tow truck capable of hauling away large vehicles at the scenic overlook on the hill weekdays from 2:30pm to 7:30pm. Rapid removal of obstacles can be cheap and effective. This can be done in a matter of days at a cost that is “in the noise” and can help reduce the biggest tie-ups. Reduced tie-ups translate into more returning tourists: evidence of that has been on my SXM Facebook site in the past, facebook.com/groups/mysxm.

Second, seriously examine Eric Boyer’s suggestion of a few years ago, published here, to convert key roads around the lagoon to one way. My two cents: at the bottom of the hill from PBurg, all traffic must turn right onto the Union Road, which would become a one-way street all the way to the roundabout at the Causeway. Traffic across the causeway would be one-way East to West, toward the Airport. Traffic on Airport Road from the roundabout southward all the way to Welfare Road and the Hill would be southbound only. This would create one-way traffic around the lagoon and should greatly speed traffic movement.

Third, longer term, SXM needs to address its bus problem. Having seemingly hundreds of buses across the island – all of them often stopping and starting in the middle of the road, snarling traffic – aggravates congestion rather than alleviating it. They need to be replaced by larger buses, perhaps powered by inexpensive natural gas rather than highly polluting diesel, which will reduce the clutter of endless minibuses and help people get where they want to go.

Fourth, having the Simpson Bay drawbridge open and close at 5pm is, in my humble opinion, an ingenious way to AGGRAVATE traffic jams throughout Simpson Bay and beyond. Do it an hour later. If extra lighting is needed to ensure safety, fine. Again, reduced tie-ups translate into more returning tourists.

Fifth, both GEBE and VROMI need to rev up the way they do their jobs regarding road maintenance and street lighting / traffic signal service. It’s a public safety issue, but it also relates to the quality of the experience tourists have when visiting the island. Give them a great experience and they’ll be back; give them an experience they perceive as “They don’t care about tourists,” and they’ll go elsewhere – St. Kitts (which is working like crazy to attract tourists and keep them) and Aruba (which spends more than 10 times what SXM does to attract tourists, gets plenty of them, and has far greater tourism revenue from them, I’m sure, than does SXM). Perception is reality – we must give tourists a great perception so they come again and encourage others to come.

GEBE needs to fix non-functioning street lights within 24 hours and have crews doing just that. It is a government-owned company and the government MUST exert whatever pressure is necessary to force GEBE to do its job. GEBE has other long festering issues that have never been properly addressed and the new government needs to body slam them into doing their job. Perception is reality. They have improved -- but not enough.

VROMI does many things but the “public works” aspect of its work is inadequate. Cavernous potholes like the one in Maho on Beacon Hill Road at the end of the airport runway and like the “Grand Canyon” pothole near Sale & Pepe need to be fixed. Someone put beach sand into the one at Maho, and VROMI put a metal plate over the one near Sale & Pepe. It was quickly dislodged, worsening the situation for days until it was repositioned. VROMI needs the capability of fixing such things itself, QUICKLY, rather than wasting time going through contortions to get a private contractor and wasting space in the Daily Herald with press releases bragging that it will soon fix potholes. That’s part of their job -- not something that merits a press release or its publication. Both of these potholes remain unfixed.

Sixth, months ago (two years after Irma) another government press release said that the sunken boats in the Lagoon were to be removed, starting quickly. There is no visible evidence of any of that; masts stick out of the water everywhere nearly 2.5 years after Irma – not a good thing.

Seventh and last, there is a strong odor of raw sewage on Airport Road at the 90% turn near Rusty Rocket and the sunken Pink Iguana wreck. The stench has been there for well over a year. Is this how we want to greet tourists?

Jeff Berger, travel writer
Massachusetts


Jeff Berger
Visiting SXM Since 1978
SXM Sponsors
Re: Simpson Bay Traffic [Re: jmbcomms] #218235
02/20/2020 04:58 PM
02/20/2020 04:58 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 7,192
S
sxmmartini Offline
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sxmmartini  Offline
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S
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 7,192
I have alot of respect for you and your years of covering SXM but have you ever owned anything in SXM?

Re: Simpson Bay Traffic [Re: sxmmartini] #218239
02/20/2020 05:05 PM
02/20/2020 05:05 PM
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 16,328
Ohio
ruralcarrier Offline
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ruralcarrier  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 16,328
Ohio
Timeshares, if my memory serves me right.


J.D.
Re: Simpson Bay Traffic [Re: jmbcomms] #218258
02/20/2020 08:35 PM
02/20/2020 08:35 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 14,737
Auburn, WA
SXMScubaman Online content
Traveler
SXMScubaman  Online Content
Traveler
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 14,737
Auburn, WA
Daily herald must not be a sponsor. Lol

Re: Simpson Bay Traffic [Re: jmbcomms] #218260
02/20/2020 08:47 PM
02/20/2020 08:47 PM
Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 1,743
B
Bahston Offline
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Bahston  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 1,743
Try moving from MA to the South, and telling them how you did it better "back home". Even if you are 100% accurate, it isn't well received.

Re: Simpson Bay Traffic [Re: jmbcomms] #218261
02/20/2020 08:55 PM
02/20/2020 08:55 PM
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 453
South Coast of MA
S
SXMBND Online content
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SXMBND  Online Content
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S
Joined: Jan 2015
Posts: 453
South Coast of MA
This is the reason why we are universally known as : MASSH _ _ ES duh

Re: Simpson Bay Traffic [Re: jmbcomms] #218262
02/20/2020 10:11 PM
02/20/2020 10:11 PM
Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 357
F
foreversxm Offline
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foreversxm  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 357
We’ve been coming to the island for the past 25 years normally 6 or 7 times a year and have gotten to know lots of people with businesses on the island. In common we all love the island but also think we understand the faults and issues sxm just can’t seem to get past. I hope this isn’t true but I suspect it is local people especially politicians just do not like to hear good ideas from foreigners even those that have been successful and with money invested. That might be part of the reason the article was not printed. They’re happy to take our money but they certainly do not want to take out input. I’ve said often that most of the local politicians just do not seem to have the peoples real needs at heart or care or clueless to real solutions if they even do care. The traffic is just mess that could be fixed with more thought. A severe lack of urgency is the next problem. OK I get island time but enough is enough when you have people sitting in a three hour traffic jams that could be fixed with a Little more urgency and a few police officers directing traffic. I don’t know if SXM has it but some sort of text messaging system where residents could get text messages as to traffic back ups and breaking news. These are all good common sense ideas pointed out in the letter to the paper but nobody’s gonna do anything about it because who it came from. A foreigner. I hope that’s not true , I hope it’s a lack of urgency or they don’t really care. You can drive around the island and see so many issues that should’ve been resolved years ago. But all the island locals get are more excuses and they accept it because they’re very complacent and unlike their counterparts on the French side that actually take to the streets and force change. It’s really sad because tourism is the only thing SXM has no Gold in the hills, no oil under the sea and eventually they will run off the golden tourist goose and see money and opportunity for themselves and their children and grandchildren disappear. I love that and and the people, it’s just hard to watch sometimes.

Re: Simpson Bay Traffic [Re: jmbcomms] #218278
02/21/2020 10:19 AM
02/21/2020 10:19 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 76,360
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 76,360
Central Florida!
Most of those ideas I think frankly are just totally impractical for SXM. As far as stationing a towtruck somewhere, the government is going to pay to have a towtruck sit somewhere every day and not take other business? Right. Government doesn't have the money to handle essential services now. Making roads one way that have always been two way? Talk about creating traffic accidents!!! Can you imagine the number of head on crashes there will be created in the first MONTH? Regarding public transportation, yes, a better public transportation system would benefit both locals and tourists. As far as BIGGER busses, h*ll no. To require busses to stop ONLY at bus stops, which are specifically created so that the bus does not stop in the middle of the road, yes. I would guess that the busses are all privately owned? And they go where they want, WHEN they want? Don't know. SXM government ( or any government, for that matter) is not particularly good at organizing things, but if the busses could be specifically licensed somehow to particular routes (if they aren't already) and required to keep a schedule and required NOT to stop in the middle of the road, wherever they want, to drop off passengers, that would be a help, so that more people would take the bus, because it was on time and dependable, that would be helpful. The optimal way to do that is to have government pay them a specific amount to keep them on that schedule. And where would the money come from? Who knows? As far as NIGHT bridge openings?? Wow, scary thought, dangerous. As far as public works, yes, SXM should have it's own ability to fill potholes. It is ridiculous that they don't. Again, money.. Regarding sunken boats in the lagoon, yes, they need to be removed, but not sure what that's got to do with traffic in Simpson Bay. Same with the last point, not sure how that affects traffic one way or another.

To ME, the biggest problem with traffic in Simpson Bay is that everyone backs out of parking spaces into the middle of the road all the time. How you address THAT, I have no idea.


Carol Hill
Re: Simpson Bay Traffic [Re: jmbcomms] #218291
02/21/2020 11:43 AM
02/21/2020 11:43 AM
Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 714
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bran Offline
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bran  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2019
Posts: 714
Regarding traffic, as a local told me. We can’t get a mortgage for a home but the banks willingly dole out money for cars, hence many families own three cars! So only allow one car per family and to enforce this like in the U.K. and other places support higher taxes on vehicles plus MOT laws.
However, as a tourist, it’s their country, their people and I have no right to dictate what they should or shouldn’t do just fortunate enough to visit a place with so much diversity(a word that seems to be cropping up everywhere these days)

Re: Simpson Bay Traffic [Re: Carol_Hill] #218292
02/21/2020 11:44 AM
02/21/2020 11:44 AM
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 16,328
Ohio
ruralcarrier Offline
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ruralcarrier  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 16,328
Ohio
Regarding one-way streets, they have made a couple of them one way or blocked an entrance in another case to prevent vehicles from taking shortcuts. The street (Old Simpson Bay Rd I believe) along the beach from the police station to near Horny Toad that parallels Welfare Rd was made one-way several years ago but just a portion of the road was changed. People still drive both ways on it, park cars both ways but it did seem to prevent a lot of the cutting through for a shortcut.

I do think the busses are privately owned and licensed as such but no idea if they have specific routs. Bigger busses would not be wise IMHO.


J.D.
Re: Simpson Bay Traffic [Re: bran] #218293
02/21/2020 11:45 AM
02/21/2020 11:45 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 76,360
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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Carol_Hill  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 76,360
Central Florida!
Yes, there are way too many cars on the island and that is not going to change. But IF there was a reliable system of public transportation, then many tourists would take it, as compared to renting a car, for at least a good portion of their travelling about the island.


Carol Hill
Re: Simpson Bay Traffic [Re: jmbcomms] #218294
02/21/2020 11:55 AM
02/21/2020 11:55 AM
Joined: Nov 2017
Posts: 138
W
WLE Offline
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WLE  Offline
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W
Joined: Nov 2017
Posts: 138
Give him a break, what does it matter if he owns a timeshare or any other property here. and I don't think removing the damaged boats from the
lagoon was ment to solve the traffic problem. I agree that changing the bridge opening schedule could surely help, the number of boats that it may
inconveience is very minamal to the hundreds of motorsts that sit for sometimes hours.

Last edited by WLE; 02/21/2020 11:58 AM.
Re: Simpson Bay Traffic [Re: WLE] #218318
02/21/2020 05:49 PM
02/21/2020 05:49 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 7,192
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sxmmartini Offline
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sxmmartini  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 7,192
A tourist complaining about traffic and damaged boats still visible is not a positive message. Time goes by quickly and two years after Irma is really not that long. My neighbor is just starting to repair the villa in front of me. I still have two rooms in post Irma shape. There is just so much skilled labor to go around. Street lights not working and pot holes is way down on my list of complaints. I think people forget just how devasting Irma was and I think the recovery was amazing. Traffic problems is not something new and the causeway was another amazing improvement. When you say give him a break maybe tourists should give SXM a break.

Re: Simpson Bay Traffic [Re: sxmmartini] #218326
02/21/2020 06:18 PM
02/21/2020 06:18 PM
Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 16,328
Ohio
ruralcarrier Offline
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ruralcarrier  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 16,328
Ohio
Well stated.


J.D.
Re: Simpson Bay Traffic [Re: jmbcomms] #218333
02/21/2020 07:47 PM
02/21/2020 07:47 PM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 13,522
Brookfield, CT.
pat Offline
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pat  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 13,522
Brookfield, CT.
Hi, Wendy.

This is one time that IF TTOL had a ‘like’ button - I’d use it - with regard to your post.

When it comes to post Irma recovery, give SXM a break, Peeps. It was a devastating storm and while there’s still mu+ work to be done, they’ve come so far.


Respectfully,

pat



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat
them."
Re: Simpson Bay Traffic [Re: jmbcomms] #218339
02/21/2020 08:36 PM
02/21/2020 08:36 PM
Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 357
F
foreversxm Offline
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foreversxm  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 357
I don’t see it necessarily it has complaining, I see it more as a friendly reminder or wake up call to Gov. unfortunately some people are just too stubborn to listen to a good idea if it’s coming from the wrong person‘s mouth

Tourism is highly competitive and who wants to sit in traffic for two hours to get to or from the beach, dining, shopping etc. Yes Irma was horrible and sxm has come a long way. But if you want the tourists like me to keep coming back that supports so many locals bank accounts and feeds their families gov got to fix the traffic and some basic other problems. That should just obvious and just common sense.

Re: Simpson Bay Traffic [Re: sxmmartini] #218359
02/22/2020 10:01 AM
02/22/2020 10:01 AM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 1,353
a little right of center
2
2fingers Offline
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2fingers  Offline
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2
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 1,353
a little right of center
Not really sure how government working on traffic issues and individuals working on their homes are mutually exclusive?


"It's 5 o'clock somewhere!"

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