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Three Miles bypass here to stay

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, November 24, 2018

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness says the Three Miles bypass will remain open after the completion of the Hagley Park Road Improvement Project in St Andrew.

In September, Holness and representatives from China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) signed a contract to undertake the US$1-million detour roadwork as a short-term fix to the gridlock traffic in sections of the Corporate Area following the closure of Portia Simpson Miller Square, formerly Three Miles, to facilitate the road improvement work.

“This is not a temporary solution. This road will be here... and there are other long-term provisions for this road as well... In the future, we will have the main route and option. Hopefully, what we can do with this is to ensure that heavy equipment, people who are using the port who want to get to the port quickly could focus on this road, while regular traffic could take the Spanish Town Road,” Holness said during a tour of the 1.4-km road linking Chesterfield Drive with Marcus Garvey Drive.

The prime minister told journalists that the thoroughfare that was slated for completion last month, is now 90 per cent completed.

At the same time, he said he is pleased with the work that is being done in the vicinity of Portia Simpson Miller Square.

“The work so far on the ramps, which we are on now, seems to be progressing pretty smoothly and rapidly actually, and as you can see in the background... the pillars are in place. So all that is left now is to complete the ramps, then to lay the beams and then put the surface on, which is quite admirable that we are able to do this at this rapid pace,” he said, adding that it has caused significant dislocation.

However, the prime minister said he's heartened by the level of cooperation the Government has been receiving from businesspeople and residents in the area.

“Ultimately, they understand that it is for the good of everyone. Nevertheless, I have said it to the [National Works Agency] NWA, particularly to [NWA Chief Executive Officer E G Hunter], that the understanding of the citizens should not be in any way abused, we should work assiduously to ensure that their smooth passage is preserved, that their property rights are preserved, and that, as quickly as possible, we can finish this so we can enjoy the full benefit of commerce that would have been happening here.

“Generally, I am satisfied that China Harbour is moving very quickly to have the work done and that the quality of work is up to the highest standard possible,” he continued.

Holness said, too, that the Government would not have made such a significant investment if it was not “quality for money”.

“We are also conscious that in the era of climate change, whatever infrastructure we put up must be resilient; it must be able to withstand the unpredictable and variable weather, and so even the bypass road that we have almost completed, additional provisions will be made for drainage and to protect the road because that road will be almost at sea level, and several drains run in that direction, and so we have made provisions for those. And based on what I have seen, I have said to Mr Hunter that we would have to make additional budgetary provisions to ensure that drainage is secure.

“It is also clear to me that [the National Environment and Planning Agency] NEPA will have to do significant work in that area to ensure that the drains are not taking commercial pollutants, and that the public using that thoroughfare will not be exposed,” he said as he commended NWA and CHEC.

In the meantime, Holness assured motorists that when the road, which is located in an isolated area, is completed, they will be able to use it safely.

“... Especially when it is open, we will have to, at the outset, ensure that there is security presence. The road will be facilitated with streetlights, there will be a soft shoulder and there are sidewalks in place. We will definitely have security presence, so it will be part of the patrol schedule of the Hunts Bay Police. It will probably, in the initial stage, have to be manned by the Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch. Public safety is priority, so we will put in place whatever measures are necessary to ensure that the road is safe,” he said.

The road is now expected to be completed by the end of this month.

Responding to a question from a journalist yesterday, on whether or not the the Government will compensate business operators who have lost revenue as a result the roadwork, he said: “That is something that the Cabinet would have to consider. We are hearing the conversation, it has come up for our attention, but there is no decision on that.”

Last week, Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica President Howard Mitchell, during an interview with RJR News, expressed that some businesses across the Corporate Area have closed down as a result of the road redevelopment projects, while others are suffering.

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