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News / Virgin Islands / October 17, 2019

“Up the hill from town. Take the first left, go up and turn in the cut after the mango tree by the dumpsters.”

Instructions like these may never go away completely in the Virgin Islands, but they will eventually be a outdated in the urban areas of downtown Charlotte Amalie, Christiansted, Frederiksted and Cruz Bay.

Lt. Gov. Tregenza Roach on Wednesday announced the new “bridge” phase of an old plan to give street addresses to properties in the more populated areas of the territory. “The initiative goes back years,” Mr. Roach said, adding that “ … it is too important an initiative to let lie any longer.”

It goes back a decade, actually. Nearly two. The Street Addressing Initiative was first put forth under the administration of former Gov. John de Jongh, but languished on the drawing board ever since.

The current address system is a remnant of Danish plantations days when an estate was divided into a parcel. The numbers were given without regard to where it might be located on a road. As the parcels were divided even more, letters were thrown in the mix, leaving the territory with a addressing system that few can decipher. 

In an emergency, the current address scheme can be more than inconvenient. 

“Through this initiative, we will work to eliminate those experiences which you have all had in the past, like having to paint your address on plywood so some FEMA or insurance representative can identify your property, or  waiting by the roadside in the blazing sun to escort some service provider there, or God forbid, waiting there for an ambulance to provide critical care to a loved one,” Mr. Roach said. “This project has the potential to bring us literally into a new age.”

The Street Addressing Initiative, as it is called aims to give the territory’s streets and roads unique names and logical, sequential numbers to each property. This modern addressing system would mean, among other things, a faster 911 emergency responses, Global Positioning Satellite Systems (GPS) that are accurate, and better home mail and parcel delivery. 

L. Chris George, administrator of the Geographical Information Systems Division of the Lt. Governor’s Office, said the upcoming “bridge” phase of the project will include downtown Christiansted and Frederiksted, the remaining portions of Cruz Bay and surrounding areas on St. John that do not have addresses, and the portions of Charlotte Amalie that don’t have addresses that conform to national standards.

Robert Moore

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