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Segment 2A of the North Coast Highway project, from the Sangster International Airport to Greenside in St. James, will be opened to vehicular traffic as of (Dec. 21).
Minister of Transport and Works, Mike Henry, toured and did a symbolic opening of the roadway on Wednesday (Dec. 19), which is expected to ease congestion along the busy thoroughfare.
The project consists of a 13-kilometre four-lane carriageway between Sangster International Airport and Sea Castle in Rose Hall and a 14-kilometre two-lane carriageway between Sea Castle and Greenside. The contractor is E. Pihl and Son of Denmark.
With the works 95 per cent completed, leaving only landscaping and finishing touches to be applied to service roads, Chief Executive Officer of the National Works Agency, Ivan Anderson, said the project is within budget.
“The contract sum signed is US$50. 2 million and so far, we have spent US$40 million, so we do not expect to go over. We expect to be under budget,” he told journalists after the tour. The outstanding works should be completed by March 2008.
In the meantime, Minister Henry has expressed satisfaction with the project.
While commending the standard of work done, he recommended the inclusion of an overhead bridge and traffic lights at the Sea Castle intersection, to ensure the safety of pedestrians and motorists.
“I would say that my immediate reaction is one of approval of what has been done. There had been some hiccups, which have been remedied by the management, so I have faith that what we have seen is work of the best nature, and in any case, I hope that the contract includes any adjustments that need to be made,” he stated.
Minister of Tourism, Ed Bartlett, who was also on the tour, expressed pleasure at the opening of the roadway. He promised the co-operation of his Ministry in the maintenance of the project to enhance the tourism product.
“There is going to be more than 5000 rooms along this corridor in the next 10 years, and it means therefore that a lot has to be done to protect and to ensure the safety of this corridor,” he stated.
The Minister noted that the traffic congestion along the thoroughfare had resulted in serious delays, which has caused a loss of revenue for the tourism industry.
Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Charles Sinclair, was also a part of the touring party.