There are mixed feelings among some residents of Manchester who are questioning the practicality of several changes to the current traffic flow in Mandeville under a new traffic management development plan.
The project, which started approximately three months ago, to be completed over a six-month period at a cost of $70 million, will see the widening of some roadways, dual lanes being transformed to one-way lanes, and the installation of traffic lights.
“This project was designed on the parameter that we didn’t have any roads or available spaces to widen. What we had to do was use existing corridors and redirect traffic flow along said corridors … We have opened three intersection points and used software design to improve traffic flow,” stated traffic engineer at the National Works Agency, Michael Reid, at Thursday’s Manchester Chamber of Commerce meeting.
Parish Manager at the NWA, Cuthbert Thomas, explained that there will be a one-way on to Manchester Road from the intersection of Caledonia, Perth and Manchester roads in the vicinity of Scotiabank. Manchester Road, in the vicinity of Sinclair’s Bargain Centre heading in the vicinity of the Jamaica National Bank, will also now be a one-way thoroughfare.
Other changes include a one-way lane transformation for commuters travelling from Ward Avenue to New Green Road, and from South Race Course Road towards the Mandeville Regional Hospital (MRH) to the Y-junction beyond the Midway Mall.
But while some persons have welcomed the development, others says that discrepancies identified in the plan need to be addressed immediately.
Among the issues raised was the compromised access to the hospital from New Green Road. Persons would now have to take a longer route to enter the facility.
Alwyn Miller, chief executive officer at the Mandeville Hospital, suggested that an entrance way be created on South Race Course Road, in the vicinity of the Accident and Emergency Department, particularly for the purposes of emergencies. He however cautioned against the creation of an entrance from North Race Course Road onto Caledonia Road.
“There are clinical services on either side of the road in that proximity; the eye clinic, the renal unit and patients [who] go there are visually impaired and challenged with mobility, which creates a safety issue for persons crossing the road,” Miller stated.
Chairman of the Manchester Shopping Centre, George Bird ,noted that a median erected along Caledonia Road now forces commuters travelling down from New Green Road to travel onto Main Street to access the Manchester Shopping Centre. He says that as a result, businesses have recorded a 15 per cent loss since the traffic change.
The stakeholders maintain that much of the traffic elements now being addressed were not traffic issues, but rather, a matter of indiscipline and features of the standard rush hour.
But Communication Manager at the National Works Agency (NWA), Stephen Shaw, maintains that the traffic improvements selected are optimal, based on space, budget and needs for not just present conditions, but also for the future.
He added that there will be follow-up and consultation meetings, and suggestions from key stakeholders will be accommodated.
“[A phase two] of this project is likely, and it is likely that we will have to acquire some persons’ properties, and some buildings will have to be knocked down to widen the roads; and that is just the reality. Some parking spaces may have to go.”
He said the traffic improvement will also allow for an enforcement of traffic laws through the use of CCTV with licence plate-recognition capabilities; and ultimately, the issuance of tickets via mail.
The project, which has slowed due to a need to have some Jamaica Public Service poles removed from several areas, is expected to be completed by the end of July.
“The outage has been scheduled for May 28 … . Once we get those poles removed, we can then move to completing the civil works, and to move with alacrity in respect of the traffic lights infrastructure,” Shaw said.
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