Work on the John’s Hall main road, including replacement of the Worcester Bridge in East Central St. James, and the Long Hill road in West Central St. James, is to begin as soon as the current flood rains subside.
Both areas were severely damaged by the torrential rains resulting from Tropical Storm Nicole. Sections of the Johns Hall main road and the Long Hill main road were severely eroded and have been reduced to single lane traffic, while the structure of the Worcester Bridge has been badly compromised.
Following a tour of some of the damage in St. James Friday (October 1), Minister of Transport and Works, Hon Michael Henry, announced the repair schedule for both roads and bridge.
Mr. Henry was supposed to tour the flood damaged roads in three parishes – St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland and St. James – but pointed out that the helicopter he came in was unable to land in St. Elizabeth and Westmoreland, thus he was only able to get a first hand view of the damag in St. James.
Heavy rains associated with Tropical Storm Nicole broke away a section of roadway along the Long Hill main road in St. James. Minister of Transport and Works, Hon. Mike Henry, accompanied by Minister of Tourism and Member of Parliament for East Central St. James, Edmund Bartlett; Member of Parliament for West Central St. James, Clive Mullings; Chief Executive Officer of the National Works Agency, Patrick Wong, and technical persons from the Ministry, toured flood-affected sections of the parish on Friday (Oct. 1).
“We have the plans and the designs in place and we were waiting for the purchasing of property, which is now complete. so I can assure the Member of Parliament and my colleague Minister here that this contract has already been fully signed under the Chinese JDIP programme,” he said of the John’s Hall road.
“So, as I speak, work can start on this, once the weather ceases or abates, and indeed whatever preliminary and prep work that has to be done should now be in full,” he assured.
With respect to the Worcester Bridge, he announced that a Bailey bridge will be installed by next week, to accommodate single lane traffic, while work on a new bridge takes place.
“We will develop it in phases, to accommodate the urgencies and emergencies which have been exacerbated by the present heavy rains,” he noted.
He said his ministry is working to ensure that all the designs are in place, adding that quality will be the watch word. He said that the whole development process of replacing the Bridge and realigning the Johns Hall main road should take about two years.
With respect to the Long Hill main road, Mr. Henry said that a request has been made for an assessment of the emergency work needed, which will be brought to Cabinet on Monday.
According to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Works Agency (NWA), Patrick Wong, who was also on the tour, the cost of both projects should be in excess of $400 million.
Mr. Wong pointed out that once the directive is given, his agency is ready to proceed with the reinstatement on the Long Hill main road. He said that NWA officers will start immediately to put Gabion Baskets in place, to prevent further erosion of that roadway, until the long term rehabilitative work takes place.
“Our purpose right now is to open and to maintain access (to the roadway), but we have to wait, I guess, until the rain abates a bit before we start the reinstatement works,” he stated.