Detour road to be ready next week


Detour road to be ready next week

Observer senior reporter

Friday, January 15, 2021

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Motorists and commuters using the badly eroded Gordon Town Road in east rural St Andrew will be able to use the newly upgraded detour, Savage Pen Road, by this time next week.

According to the National Works Agency (NWA), work on the alternative route has been continuing for several weeks, and it now seems likely that it can be completed and reopened next week.

Hopes were dashed for an early reopening of the important link road, following the damage in November last year from heavy showers which flooded areas across the island, creating some serious landslides which dared the public to challenge them especially users of the Gordon Town Road.

The NWA was bold enough, in mid-November, to suggest that the alternative route would be ready in three weeks. But, while admitting the failure to meet that deadline, the agency is insisting that there is every chance that it will reopen next week, outside of an unexpected disaster.

“At this point, we are doing base works on the Savage Pen Road. We have so far laid approximately one kilometre of base, and this is a 1.6-kilometre road— about a mile long— and we are hoping to complete that. We are paving the road with asphaltic concrete, which we have already done: 400 metres of the road is paved and we are going to do the drains as well,” said NWA Communications Officer Natalie Bloomfield.

“We are also going to put in safety features, such as guard rails, at points where they are required, and we will be doing some retaining walls as well. So, we are working to get that completed and to have vehicles [using it] by next week. This would, of course, be barring any unforeseen circumstances, or rainfall or so on,” she added.

She admitted that while the Gordon Town Road may not be the biggest challenge for the NWA's road team at the moment, but it is certainly the most exposed.She suggested that this may be due to the fact that the current alternative route, which is known as Irish Town Road, is significantly longer than both the Gordon Town and Savage Town roads.

“Persons are basically travelling 55 kilometres now to get from Papine to Gordon Town, which is much longer than normal. The Savage Pen Road is a much shorter alternative, even though it is steep at some points, but it is a better alternative based on the fact that it would only add about 6 kilometres to the original journey,” she explained.

She said that the NWA had missed its last target last year, which was completing and reopening the Savage Pen Road by the end of 2020. However, she attributed the delay to the terrain and the continued rainfall, as well as equipment break down due to the rough terrain.

“So we have set a new date, which is the middle of January 2021, to have it completed, and we have basically doubled our efforts to ensure that we get that road completed in the quickest possible time, and the timeline we are working with is next week,” she added.

Work on the alternate route to Gordon Town began in November last year following the collapse of a section of the main road leading from Gordon Town to Papine under the weight of the floods caused by heavy rainfall last autumn.

Following the closure of the main road, persons were forced to use the Irish Town Road/ Newcastle Road roads, which pass through Silver Hill Gap, Content and Guava Ridge. The route, although lengthy, was considered safe and practical for motorists at this time.

The damage forced the NWA to acquire much larger pieces of heavy equipment, including excavators and bulldozers, than normal to cut through some very narrow areas of the corridor in order to allow for two lanes of traffic at a time.

In the meantime, persons are being encouraged to use the route through Silver Hill Gap, even though it is much longer. Pedestrians are also being reminded that it is extremely dangerous to use the section of road that had broken away, as the drop below is some 80 metres deep.

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