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Several corridors of roadway across the Corporate Area have been earmarked for widening and expansion, as the Ministry of Transport and Works moves to address the problem of traffic congestion across the capital.
State Minister for Transport and Works, Joseph Hibbert has said that six major corridors have been identified for expansion works between the current and 2009/10 fiscal years. When completed, these are expected to significantly improve traffic flow and management.
Making his contribution in the 2008/09 Sectoral Debate at Gordon House yesterday (June 11), Mr. Hibbert advised that the corridors short listed are: Hagley Park Road, Washington Boulevard/Dunrobin Avenue, a section of Constant Spring Road, Shortwood Road, Old Hope Road between Cross Roads and Liguanea, and Barbican Road/East King’s House Road/Lady Musgrave Road.
Additionally, the State Minister said consideration is also being given to establishing an elevated six-lane north to south expressway from Manor Park to downtown Kingston, with inter-changes at “critical” sections of the city.
“These, with the exception of the expressway, are all being either implemented or are scheduled for implementation during this fiscal year,” he said.
Mr. Hibbert pointed out that Spanish Town Road and Marcus Garvey Drive are already being widened, with the latter “contractually due for completion in August of this year.” He added, however, that Marcus Garvey Drive is now anticipated to be completed by the end of June, “well ahead of schedule.”
These activities are expected to be complemented by improvements to be effected on traffic signals and pedestrian crossings at a number key intersections across the city, among other initiatives being considered, Mr. Hibbert informed.
These, he outlined, include: establishment of Pedestrian Only movement in signalized zones at short intervals in high volume traffic in areas such as Half-Way-Tree; establishment of countdown traffic signals, featuring displays informing pedestrians of the amount of time they have to cross roadways before the light changes; and introducing audible pedestrian/traffic signals to facilitate safe and timely movement of individuals, particularly the visually impaired, across roadways.
He pointed out that the latter “was started” with the new signals at Constant Spring Road and South Odeon Avenue between the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre and Jamaica National Building Society. Additionally, the Minister said there are plans to establish wheelchair ramps at some of the busy intersections, such as the entry and exit points across most of the traffic signals in Half-Way Tree square.
Other initiatives being pursued are: the inter-connection of traffic signals to the Traffic Management Centre from where engineers will gradually be able to remotely control the signals; gradual conversion of traffic signals from incandescent bulbs to Light Emitting Diodes (LED), which, Mr. Hibbert pointed out, would result in an 80 per cent reduction in energy consumption by the signals; and private sector support to establish emergency power generation for traffic signals at eight critical intersections.
“The intersections falling into this category are those in the immediate Half-Way Tree area; Waterloo Road/Hope Road; Cross Roads, and at Three Miles. All the signals (in these areas) accommodate over 55,000 vehicles on weekdays,” Mr. Hibbert informed.
He said that other activities to be undertaken include increasing the current number of bus lanes, and introducing high occupancy (carpooling) lanes.