Gordon Town Road warning

Gordon Town Road warning

By Balford Henry
Observer senior reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, November 27, 2020

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THE National Works Agency (NWA) says it is awaiting a government decision on the solution to the closed St Andrew East Rural Gordon Town main road, before starting the rehabilitation project.

NWA Customer Services and Communications Manager Stephen Shaw, in an update to the media on Wednesday, said that, in the meantime, while the Gordon Town Road is not impassable the better advice is to use the corridor through Silver Hill Gap to Newcastle, despite the many faults, while work is being done on the Savage Pen Road.

“Our response has been two-fold, and we maintain that persons ought to use the corridor through Silver Hill Gap (Newcastle). That is the official alternative. We have closed the Gordon Town Road, but we are seeing where persons are still using it. It is extremely dangerous to cross the (narrow) bit of the (Gordon Town) Road, and I am saying that we are working on the Savage Pen Road (as a better alternative),” he noted.

However, he admits that the Savage Pen Road also comes with its own set of challenges which could delay work there. The route is seen by residents as a long, narrow, pot-holed-filled dirt track winding journey around the famous Blue Mountains.

It is so bad that the NWA, he says, has found it necessary to do something that it does not do, normally, which is “double handling” Savage Pen Road using the shingles. This is a systematic approach to have the dirt road first covered with shingles, and then add the base material before closing off with the final surfacing.

“We have to be double handling with the shingle, because of the topography of the area. It is very steep. I, myself, drove along that road last week, not for the greater part, however, and saw other persons including persons going to the market. So it is drivable. It is not that it isn't, but it certainly it is not going to be a corridor that we expect a market truck to be using,” he explained.

“We are not going to say that persons coming from the hills of Mavis Bank who are laden with goods for the market should use it. No, I would suggest that they continue using the road from Silver Gap (Newcastle). We know it is long, but it is the safer road,” he added.

In reference to the rehabilitation of the Gordon Town Road, he said that the engineers have been busy looking at two possible options:

(1) To focus on putting in the retaining structure; and,

(2) Follow a proposal from Jamaica House to redesign the section of the road, and have the two projects happening at the same time.

“As to which one will be implemented, I am not sure at this moment. It is for us to look at the numbers, and the Government will make the appropriate decision as to whether we will go with the realigning of that section of the road, or to build a retaining structure. I am told that a retaining structure can be built there,” he said.

“The area is deep. It is about 80 metres down. But, it can be done, based on what the engineers have said,” he added.

Shaw said that the NWA was also aware that a number of other roads demand some attention, which might be soon forthcoming with Prime Minister Andrew Holness announcing a new $1-billion road repair programme in the House of Representatives, last week.

He said that, in addition to that programme, the NWA is also moving forward with a quarterly routine maintenance patching programme.

“So we are going to take two bites at the cherry. We have the third quarter routine patching activities taking place, and that's part of the third quarter patching activities. This is not the programme which the prime minister announced last week, kicking in just yet. That is to come,” he informed the media.

“So, we are going to be running both things, as we push to try and make persons a bit more comfortable when they are moving around the island,” he assured.


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