Engineer suggests raising coastal roads

Staff reporter

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

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As plans are being laid for the repair of Ocean Boulevard and Port Royal Street in downtown Kingston which the sea has continuously been gnawing over many years, the coastal engineer working on the project has advised that the roads be raised and a drainage canal be installed.

Port Royal Street runs easterly along the southern quadrant of the city. Starting at Marcus Garvey Drive in the west and ending at Michael Manley Boulevard in the east, it intersects such thoroughfares as Pechon, Orange, King, Church, and High Holborn streets.

Ocean Boulevard is a fore-shore dual carriageway that runs parallel to Port Royal Street and joins it at both ends.

The National Works Agency (NWA) concedes that the entire stretch requires attention, but says work will only be carried out on three critical sections. The work is to be carried out under the US$5million-Rock Revetment Project, which is being funded through the Jamaica Disaster Risk Vulnerability Programme and executed by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund.

Coastal engineer Dr Tsutomu Sakakiyama, a Japan International Cooperation volunteer, has been consulting on the project.

“As you can see, the shore protection, revetment we call it, is damaged. So, if the hurricanes attack here, then you cannot use this road. This road is very important in Jamaica. This Port Royal Street connects with the international airport and the west side of Kingston along this shoreline,” Dr Sakakiyama explained.

He expressed concern about the extent of the damage, which he said warrants urgent attention.

“The revetment is damaged and the road is quite low when we consider the wave height. The wave height inside this Kingston Harbour is estimated about three metres high when the hurricane comes. The difference between road level and the sea level is about less than one metre. It is quite low. So when the revetment is renewed or reconstructed, the roadway should be raised,” he said.

The lack of a drainage system is another issue about which the coastal engineer raised concerns. He said that the road floods when it rains due to lack of a drainage system and he strongly recommends that a drainage system be put in place.

“We cannot prevent overtopping — a wave which overflows from the sea unto the road. We should accommodate drainage system on the road. Road works as a drainage channel until the rain water flows into the underground, too. I recommend that road around the sea be equipped with gutter.”

He recognises that Jamaica does not offer degrees in coastal engineering, and thinks this should be addressed. NWA's senior civil engineer, Howard Prendergast, agreed with this notion, and pointed out its importance.

“Now in this time with the impacts of climate change and so on, things basically need even more urgent attention. Sea levels are rising and for that reason these locations have become more vulnerable. It is very crucial to have more interventions and more experienced personnel, including coastal engineers such as the likes of Mr Sakakiyama,” he said.

“What is being proposed to be implemented is a long-term sustainable solution, which means revetment work similar to what is along the Palisadoes. That should offer a fair degree of protection from tidal surge and, to some degree, the effects of tsunami.”

Works are expected to begin in the next financial year.

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