Mandeville to Spur Tree main road a pain for motorists

Mandeville to Spur Tree main road a pain for motorists

Residents eager to see bypass for crash prone area

Observer staff reporter

Sunday, October 25, 2020

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — There is growing concern about safety on the roadway embracing Mandeville through Kingsland to Spur Tree, as well as the steep, winding, accident-prone Spur Tree Hill, because of the deteriorating surface.

Residents and motorists say bumps and potholes — made worse by persistent rain in recent weeks —have caused a surge of blown-out tyres. They fear major accidents will happen without corrective action.

The crucial thoroughfare links Mandeville and its environs to St Elizabeth and points west. Heavily laden, slow-moving trucks often hinder traffic on the steep, difficult Spur Tree Hill, and there have been a number of tragic accidents involving trucks down the years.

Residents are thankful that there have been far fewer such incidents since 2019. Some locals speculate that more experienced drivers and greater attention to the roadworthiness of vehicles may have resulted in the improved situation.

Successive administrations have pledged to build a bypass road for Spur Tree Hill. It's unclear how those plans will evolve, given expenditure realignments caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a visit by the Jamaica Observer on Friday, residents of Kingsland, located just east of (top) Spur Tree and three miles west of Mandeville, spoke of tyre problems caused by the poor road surface.

“Some time all 10 car tyre buss right yah so back to back and a wi haffi help people change tyre. When car drop inna dem deh pothole is like gunshot to how tyre buss,” one man said.

When contacted by telephone yesterday, community relations officer for the National Works Agency, Howard Hendriks, said it wasn't practical to consider road repairs immediately, because of persistent, heavy rains.

“We can't patch road in the rain,” Hendriks said. “All being well, when the rain eases off in the November/December period, we should be able to do some patching work,” he added.

Another Kingsland resident, Danville Campbell, criticised the National Water Commission (NWC) for allegedly worsening the situation by not repairing broken and rotting underground pipes.

“This road yah a water commission first haffi go work, because all a the pipe dem under the road rotten. Weh day dem fix one down deh suh and as dem fix dat deh one deh, a next part buss. Anyweh dem fix a next part start leak nearby after. When dem fix pipe, all dem do a fling marl and likkle bit a asphalt, and in no time it sink and turn pothole,” Campbell said.

“All the pipe dem under the road need fi tek out and get fixed properly, so the road can get fi last long. Yuh cyaa fix road wid a lot of rotten pipe underneath it. It nago work. A 'ginnalship' dem enuh man, dem know say a rotten pipe dem a work wid, so anytime dem fix one part dem a come back again,” he said.

Member of Parliament (PNP) for Manchester North Western, Mikael Phillips, also took the NWC to task. Manchester North Western includes a section of the road from Mandeville to the top of Spur Tree Hill.

“We have to plea to the NWC, because a lot of digging up is being done on the Spur Tree road that they are involved in and no overlaying has been done since… In the Kingsland area there are about three sections [that have been dug up],” Phillips said.

“In the short term right now some patching needs to be done and some drain cleaning with the rains that we are having. We have not gotten any funding since March/April for any drain cleaning any at all. What we got could not even touch a quarter of the constituency, because we only got one million dollars to do all major drains,” he added.

Phillips has blamed the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government for removing the thoroughfare off the Major Infrastructure Development Programme (MIDP) back in 2016.

“At every point I make representation for that piece of road which was supposed to be on the original MIDP prior to the People's National Party demitting office in 2016, that section from Greenvale roundabout to Spur Tree should have been overlaid. After the Jamaica Labour Party Government was elected in 2016 there was a rescope of the MIDP which took that road off the list of roads to be done,” he stressed.

He said there has been patching at some sections; and rehabilitation.

“In some representations that I have made we have gotten some patching from the Greenvale roundabout to Hatfield and some overlaying done in the Kingsland area where you have the call centre (Sutherland). We continue to make representation without any indication of any funding from the National Works Agency (NWA),” he said.

In the neighbouring constituency of Manchester Southern where the majority of the accident-prone Spur Tree Hill is situated, residents have vivid memories of many deadly crashes. They point to one house that has been abandoned, presumably because of truck crashes there.

“Usually when the trucks get out of control instead of going down the hill, they run into this (now abandoned) house. A lot of trees were here but truck lick dem down. You plant a tree then truck come lick it down. This time now no tree was there and so a truck went straight into the house,” said Janel-Bean Carpenter.

“Time pass by and another truck and other vehicles crashed into the house,” she added.

Carpenter is eagerly awaiting the planned Spur Tree bypass.

“I think so, because the hill is very steep and long. I think it would be better for motorists especially trucks to go on the bypass,” she said.

Her mother Janet Carpenter shared similar sentiments.

“Most people are scared to walk there [on the road], because of how trucks come down the hill. The bypass is greatly needed,” she said.

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