Is the end really near?

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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It is no sweeping generalisation that the numerous road construction and development projects across the island have spared no one inconvenience of some form.

However, the nation continues to console itself with the axiom that real development comes at more than financial costs.

There is no doubt that much of the work being undertaken needed to have been done, as it is set to improve the capacity and efficiency of critical nodes in the Corporate Area road network, as well as “facilitate connectivity between the city, neighbouring parishes and town centres such as St Mary, Portland, St Catherine, Portmore, and Spanish Town”, as indicated by the National Works Agency (NWA).

Nonetheless, there is wisdom in the opinion that all the projects underway across the Corporate Area and St Catherine should not have been pursued simultaneously. But, we note that the end is nigh.

We take NWA Manager of Communication and Customer Services Mr Stephen Shaw at his word that most of the projects have passed the 50 per cent completion mark. The collective sigh of relief is audible.

In a recent interview, senior communications and customer services officer at the NWA, Mr Ramona Lawson also said that the bridge works at Portia Simpson Miller Square (Three Miles) are “practically done” and work on the thoroughfare into the Half-Way-Tree town centre via Hagley Park Road will be completed by the end of summer.

This US$56-million project will be an engineering and traffic management showpiece when all lanes are open.

For Constant Spring Road, on which some US$19 million has been invested, work is progressing steadily and all base activity is complete.

The US$64-million Mandela Highway Realignment and Reconstruction Project is reportedly 97 per cent complete. Lawson told the media that what is largely outstanding are corrective and tidying-up works.

Motorists are already enjoying the six-lane corridor with a two-lane overpass bridge, two new three-lane bridges at Fresh River, and a two-lane service road adjacent to the main roadway to facilitate the development of Caymanas Estate.

These projects are all part of the Government's ongoing legacy road programme being implemented by the NWA, and much of the work is being undertaken by China Harbour Engineering Company Limited under the Government's Major Infrastructure Development Programme.

Of the Port Henderson Road project, the report is that work is 50 per cent complete, with concentration being now on completing the 1.3 kilometre four-lane dual carriageway between the Bayside roundabout and Naggo Head square, the NWA said.

It is hoped that the necessary investigations for water channelling, drainage requirements and support infrastructure — such as pedestrian crossing, sidewalks and access to existing establishments — have been considered in the initial plan, and will not require revisiting and reconstruction of previously completed areas, as we have seen in the past.

The delays, dust and commercial activity sacrifices will not be for much longer. And it should not be lost on the nation that improved productivity is the long-term goal, not simply the existence of smooth road surfaces.

As we see the end of the tunnel, we trust, too, that future audits of the projects will reveal sound budget management practices and execution standards with the highest degree of safety.


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