Funding for MoBay $40-b perimeter road in place

Observer West reporter

Thursday, January 23, 2020

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Member of Parliament for St James North Western Dr Horace Chang has given the assurance that funding to commence the construction of the much-anticipated Montego Bay perimeter (bypass) road, estimated to cost roughly $40 billion, has been set aside in the budget for the 2020/2021 financial year.

Funding is being jointly provided by the Government of Jamaica and the China Ex-Im Bank.

“So it's in the budget, it's the first thing. What I am now trying to do is to tidy up the contractual arrangement, which we have to work through can be a very tedious process. But I expect that we will conclude it to ensure that all the pre-planning work in terms of design, acquisition of properties, and when I say design, not only in terms of the route…that will be done during the course of this financial year,” Dr Chang revealed.

“I would love to see some tractors by the end of the financial year, but I know how the system goes. I would love to see some tractors on the ground by the end of the financial year but it will be a challenge, I am going to work on that.”

The project aims to create a safe and reliable alternative route for motorists travelling within and across Montego Bay, resulting in reduced traffic congestion, while opening up new lands to facilitate structured development.

The project will involve the construction of a 15-kilometre four-lane carriageway from Ironshore to Bogue in Montego Bay, and rehabilitation/improvement of intersections within the city.

During the financial year 2019/2020, an allocation of $500 million was spent to acquire property, as well as the commencement and completion of the design for programmed civil works.

“There are 400 lots to be acquired. we have already given instructions to acquire properties across Porto Bello, through Salt Spring to get around to what is the outline route of the road — we are acquiring those properties. So even if there is a delay, the town should know that the land is acquired. We have to build the road and we have placed money in the budget. I expect to spend it all during the course of next year [financial year],” said Dr Chang, who is also National Security Minister.

He was speaking during a ceremony for the renaming of Quebec Avenue as Dr Horace Chang Boulevard recently.

Dr Chang argued that the new Dr Horace Chang Boulevard, which is widely traversed by motorists avoiding traffic congestion leading from the airport into downtown Montego Bay, is “symbolic of much of the changes in MoBay”.

“It was a track that you wound hardly want to drive on, you had to get a four-wheel drive vehicle to get through. At one stage it was so bad that they not only dumped garbage there, they dumped dead bodies around there. And I decided we would have to correct it because there is land here for development, and we look forward to those developments,” Dr Chang remarked.

“It took a little while because we got the road near the end of my first term in Government, 2011. The road was stopped halfway, and we got back into power, fortunately. We had to pave the road and provide a good access road. It has certainly opened up and made life easier traversing Montego Bay and brought business to this side of town as well.”

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