Residents say no to bigger Highway 2A
Residents of the north are strongly opposing a proposal by the Ministry of Transport, Works and Maintenance (MTWM) to widen the section of the Ronald Mapp Highway, formerly Highway 2A, from the D’arcy Scott Roundabout in Warrens, St Michael, to Mile-anda-quarter, St Peter.
The MTWM is partnering with Canadian consultants from the IBI Group and local firm DLN Consultants Inc.
At a recent town hall meeting at St Thomas Parish Church, residents said they were satisfied with the highway, but there was room for improvements, and maintenance was a critical issue.
The plan is still in the preliminary stages and seeks to widen sections of the former Highway 2A. The proposal is for a three-lane cross-section with two south-bound lanes, one northbound lane and full-sized, multi-lane roundabouts to accommodate all truck movements.
It also includes single-lane roundabouts, smaller multi-lane roundabouts at intermediate locations to provide additional turnaround opportunities for cars, and junction upgrades through the addition of right-turn lanes.
Faith Richards did not welcome the proposal, stating it would almost be impossible to acquire land. She said residents experienced compensation and relocation challenges when the highway was built, and feared history would repeat itself.
Construction businessman Roger Manning, who lives in Westmoreland, St James, said the upgrade would be a waste. While it would ease traffic flows in the north, he said, motorists would still encounter bumper-to-bumper traffic in Welches and Warrens.
Albert Phillips said the highway was in dire need of improvements, rather than an upgrade. He explained that if the gullies along the stretch of road were maintained, drainage would not be a problem.
Sections along the highway comprise agricultural belts and Roseanne Richards said asking residents to move could affect their livelihood.
Sheldon Archer wanted the needs of workers at Portvale Sugar Factory to be considered in the plan. He said there were no shelters to accommodate workers who relied on poor bus service, and it was not safe for them to wait on transportation along the highway at night because there was no lighting.
Archer also called for streetlights to be placed at the entrance of the Blowers, St James factory to ease traffic flows for the heavy-duty vehicles entering and exiting during crop time.
Like Phillips, Karen Jordan said the highway could be improved and it was a waste of resources to construct a new one. She said road-patching could be done, boundary lines should be repainted and more lighting was a must.
The junction at Westmoreland, St James was identified as an area which also should be addressed.
MTWM project manager Dave Scantlebury said several studies were underway, including an evaluation of current and future traffic trends, and an assessment of storm water management.
He said another public meeting would be held by year-end to further discuss design plans.
Sheldon Archer made a case for the factory workers at Portvale.
Faith Richards said she feared the relocation of residents would not be done properly.