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Caution for road users as new phase of Leeward Highway project set to begin

Caution for road users as new phase of Leeward Highway project set to begin

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An early call has been made for road users to exercise caution and patience, ahead of the long-awaited rehabilitation of the Leeward Highway.{{more}}

Persons who spoke yesterday, at the ceremony and workshop to signal the beginning of a new phase of the project, called for the travelling public to “bear with” construction works, for the year and a half that the project, stretching from the corner at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital to the post office in Layou, is expected to take.

Chief engineer in the Ministry of Transport and Works Brent Bailey, as he outlined the project, said “I wish to indicate that there will be significant diversions to traffic. Construction is expected to last for 18 months. One lane of the road is expected to remain open, but there will be challenges to be faced by the public during the time of construction,” Bailey noted.

The engineer indicated that work is scheduled to begin in January next year, with a number of upgrades to be installed on the 25.3 mile stretch of road, which, he stated, had exceeded its design life years ago.

The widening of the road by five to 12 per cent in certain areas and realignment in others, are among some of the improvements that are slated to take place.

The road will be widened to 19.7 feet between Buccament and Layou, 21 feet from Campden Park to Buccament and 21.8 feet between Kingstown and Campden Park.

“The decision was taken to… create a diversion drainage channel from the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital towards the north river… sidewalks will be installed, the Campden Park junction will be widened to facilitate easier flow of containerized traffic to the Central and North Leeward areas.

“Improvements will also be done in Rilland Hill at Duke Corner, and as well as the Buccament junction.

“Increased bus lay-bys and increased traffic signage and safety barriers along exposed and dangerous embankments will also be installed.”

The project is expected to cost US$44 million, with funds coming from the Caribbean Development Bank and Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Joining the call for patience was Hudson Nedd, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Works, who admitted that there will be challenges during the exercise.

“Indeed, the construction period will have its challenges and we are not going to bury our heads in the sand on this matter; there are numerous interest groups and stakeholders who are already looking for answers about how the impacts of this project, especially with respect to the closure of roads and diversions, how it is going to affect them and how we are going to mitigate against those impacts.

“I want to assure the general public… that the ministry has taken these issues into consideration and we are hoping to appoint a specialist who is well qualified to assist us with interfacing with these stakeholders to provide education and guidance necessary for us to smooth out the anticipated challenges,” he said.

Also calling for patience to be exercised, was Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who said that while he thought that the wait for the project was long overdue, likened it to frying an egg.

“I want to ask our motorists to have a little bit of patience….. You can’t enjoy the egg unless you break it. You have to break the egg to make your omelette.

“You have to dig up things on the highway and widen it, and strengthen the walls and put in proper drains and that can’t happen by pouring hot water on cocoa or coffee and have it instant….”

Also speaking at the launch at the Sunset Shores Hotel conference room, were Minister of Transport and Works Julian Francis, and Andrew Dupigny, Division Chief, Economic Infrastructure Division of the Caribbean Development Bank.(JJ)

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