#Kingston, August 1, 2018 – Jamaica – The Government of Jamaica is expending billions of dollars to upgrade major road segments in Kingston and St. Andrew in order to facilitate seamless travel by the commuting public and enhance connectivity to major markets and commercial centres, thereby boosting economic activity.
The projects being undertaken are the US$19-million Constant Spring Road Improvement project, US$64-million Mandela Highway Realignment and Reconstruction project, and the US$56-million Hagley Park Road Improvement project. These legacy projects, which are being implemented by the National Works Agency (NWA), represent a continuation of work to improve the island’s road network in order to enhance the quality of life of citizens and to stimulate economic growth and development.
In a recent interview with JIS News, Acting Communication and Customer Services Manager, NWA, Ramona Lawson, says the improvement works are at varying stages of completion and will result in reduction of travel time along the corridors.
“At Mandela, we are currently 86 per cent complete; at Hagley Park Road, we are 12 per cent complete and at Constant Spring Road, 17 per cent complete,” she says.
She explains that the Mandela Highway reconstruction project will, among other things, increase the number of lanes from four to six between Six Miles and the ‘on and off’ ramps of Highway 2000 to reduce the risk of the corridor becoming inundated. The Duhaney River box culvert will be upgraded and a new bridge constructed over the Fresh River.
Mandela Highway is a very important thoroughfare in the nation’s road infrastructure, as it serves as a link between Kingston and the northern, western and southern sections of the island.
“The works that we are currently doing on Mandela include the construction of box culverts under the westbound lanes. We are doing some subgrade filling on the QRamp as well… and we will be prefabricating, offsite, a concrete box culvert that is to be installed in the vicinity of the Six Miles drainage,” Miss Lawson says. She informs that the project is expected to be completed by year end.
Turning to the Constant Spring Road Improvement project, Miss Lawson tells JIS News that the works include widening of the road from two to four lanes, improved traffic management, upgrading of storm-water drainage, and construction of two additional bus bays at the transportation terminal in Manor Park, St. Andrew. So far, sewer pipes, water pipes and storm drains have been laid.
“We are doing most of the underground work, which involves extensive excavation. The completion of that project is 17 per cent and most of it is on account of the drainage work that is already done,” Miss Lawson informs.
“We have done some base formation where the drainage is completely in already, and that is leading up from the top section of Constant Spring Road into the Immaculate Conception High School area; we have done about 500 metres along the southbound lane,” she further indicates.
Meanwhile at Hagley Park Road, the NWA is widening 3.6 kilometres of roadway from Three Miles to Maxfield Avenue; constructing a double overpass, a sewer main and sidewalks; installing a number of traffic signals and street lights, undertaking drainage improvement; and setting back perimeter fences and boundary walls.
“We have completed about 40-plus walls… . The total that we have to do there is 158 walls. The setting back of walls is taking place all along the project boundary from the Three Miles intersection all the way to the Maxfield Avenue intersection,” Miss Lawson notes.
She says that both the Constant Spring and Hagley Park projects are set to be delivered in June 2019. “The projects have not suffered any major shocks, to date, and so we still intend to meet the June deadline for both projects,” she notes.
Miss Lawson tells JIS News that plans have been implemented by the agency to minimise any adverse impact on the commuting public from the road construction projects that are being undertaken concurrently.
“Our communication mechanisms have been ramped up, our traffic management plans have been vetted, and have been tested, and will be implemented as the need arises… to mitigate any undue negative impact on the commuting public as well as commercial and residential stakeholders,” she points out.
She notes that while persons are still able to use the roadways, they should be mindful of the warnings, restrictions and advisories that have been and will be issued. She says motorists can expect that at the end of the projects there will be significant decrease in travel time along the corridors.
In the meantime, Miss Lawson says the US$4.4-million Barbican Road Upgrade Project has been completed and has significantly improved travel flow.
“We have not received many complaints, as at recent times, of persons being delayed along the corridor,” she points out.
“We are installing fibre-optic cables along the stretch, so that the signals can be synchronised as well as cameras, so that the signals can be altered from our traffic management centre here at head office. So, going forward, the flow of traffic is expected to be improved even more,” she informs.
Miss Lawson adds that LED street lights are also being installed. “We are about 11 of 18 complete there,” she points out.
The works at Barbican entailed significant widening and upgrading in the vicinity of the Barbican Centre, which is expected to alleviate congestion in the area. The road infrastructure legacy projects fall under the Major Infrastructure Development Programme (MIDP), which is being financed through a concessionary loan from the Government of China.
MIDP is being implemented by the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, with funding support from the Government and the Export-Import Bank of China.
By: Chris Patterson