KINGSTON — The frequent traffic jams experienced by motorists on the Washington Boulevard in Kingston will soon be a thing of the past, as the National Works Agency (NWA) is working relentlessly to have the road works completed by August this year.
Expansion work is currently being undertaken on 2.75 kilometres of roadway from the Molynes Road intersection to the junction at Dunrobin Avenue and Constant Spring Road.
This involves the widening of the roadway to six lanes; reconstruction of the existing pavement; construction of boundary walls along the new road alignment; putting in sidewalks, curbs, drains, box culverts and retaining walls; and building three major bridges.
Providing an update on the ongoing road works, Communications Officer at the NWA, Havenol Douglas says about 70 per cent of the work has been done.
“This include a number of major activities, which comprise the installation of underground systems, the construction of three new bridge structures and the extension of three others along the corridor and the widening of the roadway,” she told JIS News.
Ms. Douglas informs that the three new bridges at the Red Hills overpass, Rochester Gully and Merrivale Gully are 72 per cent complete.
She noted that a lot of work on the Washington Boulevard was carried out on underground systems, which included replacing old sewer and water lines.
As for road surfacing, the NWA’s Communication Officer said the work is progressing well. “We are expecting it to be completed in August this year. We have completed just about half the number of activities that we need to do on the roadway, in terms of sub-base construction,” she pointed out.
The project was slated to be completed earlier this year; however the date was pushed back as a result of the heavy rains which affected the island last year.
Miss Douglas said that once the work is completed, persons who use the Washington Boulevard corridor will enjoy multiple benefits.
“We anticipate improved traffic volume capacity, reducing traffic congestion along the corridor, and improved safety for both motorists and pedestrians. We are installing five new traffic signals along the corridor and we’re putting in pedestrian facilities at these locations. There will also be reduced travel time and overall road transportation costs,” she said.
In the meantime, the NWA is asking persons to be patient and exercise caution while traversing the roadway.
A traffic management system has been put in place for the duration of the project, including a mandatory requirement that two lanes of traffic be maintained while the road work is being undertaken.
At the ground-breaking ceremony for the project last year, Minister of Transport and Works, Hon. Mike Henry had said that the project would improve traffic volume capacity, thus reducing congestion along the corridor.
He explained that the work was critical, as the Washington Boulevard corridor carried the third largest volume of traffic in the Kingston Metropolitan area during peak hours.
Funded by the Government and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the project seeks to enhance productivity by reducing the economic loss to the country as a result of traffic congestion, and decrease fuel consumption and vehicle operating cost, due to poor ride quality.
The project is estimated to cost US$23.4 million, with an approved loan from the CDB of US$14.78 million, and the remainder of US$8.6 million to be financed by the Government.
By CHRIS PATTERSON, JIS Reporter