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16 years in the making

Kingston Technical welcomes overhead bridge

BY SHANAE STEWART
Observer staff reporter
stewarts@jamaicaobsever.com

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

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AFTER 16 years of stops and starts, the overhead bridge at Kingston Technical High School (KTHS) is no longer just a dream.

The structure that connects the two compounds on either side of Hanover Street in downtown Kingston was the feature of a ceremonial opening yesterday.

The journey started in 2003, when a past student passed away and willed $15 million to his alma mater. The board at the time decided to use the money to construct a bridge so that students would not have need to venture off the compound during the course of the school day. But hurdles presented themselves every step of the way and postponed the construction for over a decade.

“We have had several hiccups,” Principal Ernest Donaldson said yesterday. “There were issues with the contractual bidding process, and with the nature of the design, which led to several modifications. At each stage we encountered a roadblock. We had an issue with the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) and this caused the process to stall for a very long time.”

He explained that in order for the bridge to be constructed, JPS needed to remove the overhead electrical wires.

“Several letters were sent to JPS; it was a lot of back and forth. When we eventually got through to them we were then made aware that the cost to remove the wires and have them placed underground was hefty. That wasn't accounted for in the budget and so that was another setback.

“Before that could even be completed, the National Works Agency had to give JPS the permission to give the contractor the permission to dig the road, as the road belongs to the road agency. Today, I can prouldy say that we can put all that behind us,” Donaldson reported.

He noted that now that the bridge is in place, the challenges that presented themselves before should now be a thing of the past.

“The students do not always use the pedestrian crossing when going from one campus to the next, and some even use the opportunity to go elsewhere. Now, we will have more control to prevent situations like those,” he said.

Georgette Palmer, former principal of KTHS was also happy to witness the commissioning of the bridge.

“When I was here at KTHS as principal, I knew that the overhead bridge was something I wanted. There were many times when I sat in the office and when I heard the screeching sound of tyres, I was like 'Lord, please don't let any of my children be out there,' because we have had many collisions at the intersection which is outside the school,” the former principal said.

Doran Williamson, a guidance counsellor at the school also shared in the joy and said, “It is a great accomplishment. It will help to alleviate a lot of the challenges with persons and students transitioning from one campus to the next.

“We have had students robbed while moving from one campus to the other and hopefully now that the students do not have to leave the compound the issue will be fixed,” she said.

Robert Gregory, chairman of the board, said the bridge is of great significance.

“This bridge symbolises so many things. We managed to overcome all these hurdles and we are here, and I'm alive to see it.

“I always said that before I leave the board chairmanship, I would have loved to see this bridge and today we are here to celebrate the achievement.

“This bridge symbolises our continued growth and development. Just as how 'Block B' symbolises our beginnings — as it was once the home of the Mico Teachers' College — the bridge symbolises our crossing over into the 21st century,” Gregory said.

Headboy Jordan Gray told the Jamaica Observer that he was overjoyed that the bridge was put in place. He said, however, that he is hoping that it will be covered so that when it rains the students will not be inconvenienced.

The principal, in response to Gray's concern, said that the shed for the bridge was not in the original plan, but will soon be constructed.

“We didn't want there to be any more delays so we decided to go ahead and open the bridge as the shed is the only thing that is currently missing,” Donaldson said.

The initial $15 million donated for the construction of the bridge was supplemented by some $20 million from the Ministry of Education.


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