For the past two years we have watched and suffered as the Palisadoes causeway is being rebuilt. The effort certainly looks impressive. The road is being raised several feet above the original, and the course is being buttressed by solid concrete and steel embankments.
The size of the boulders brought to the site is intimidating to man and hopefully to the sea which has a penchant for reclaiming what it previously had, despite the best made human plans. As I have contemplated the progression of the work, I have wondered about the cost of the operation, and whether over the long run this is money really well spent.
Even if we manage to hold the sea at bay, do the benefits of this new construction out-value the expenditure? What else of better permanent value could have been done with the money spent here?
The major benefit of the causeway is to serve the Norman Manley International Airport, since the drawing power of Port Royal is admittedly minimal. So apparently the causeway is a part of improving the access as well as the attractiveness of the nearby airport. Norman Manley handles only about one-half of the passenger level of Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, and neither is a truly world-class airport. As a country with a strong focus on tourism, what Jamaica deserves is a modern, world-class airport. For many years different interests have proposed Vernam Field in Clarendon, a central location with infinite possibilities for creating the sort of diverse domestic economic linkages that could be effectively self-sustaining.
Using the causeway expenditure as a sort of initiation of the larger plan of a centrally located, state-of-the-art international airport strikes me as a much better idea than a new and expensive road to a second-rate airport.