Manning's Hill Road repair bill jumps

BY JEDIAEL CARTER
Staff reporter
carterj@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, November 12, 2017

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The completion of repairs on Manning's Hill Road in St Andrew has again been delayed, costing taxpayers almost 20 per cent more than was originally budgeted.

Communication and Customer Services Manager at the National Works Agency Stephen Shaw said that the initial $15.3 million cost of repair has increased — now costing roughly $2.6 million more.

“This figure ($15.3 million) has been increased by about 17 per cent due to us having to complete necessary works, based on changes in the scope of the works,” he told the Jamaica Observer in an e-mailed response. “We, for example, had to put in retaining walls to hold the fill that had to be put in for access across the new structure. New drains and sidewalks as well as ramps also had to be accounted for.”

On June 29 the NWA announced a three-month closure of a section of the road network to accommodate drainage improvement. Repair work began in July.

Shaw at the time, said that the invert of a gully in the vicinity of Lawrence Avenue and Sullivan Avenue was damaged and the road surface destroyed due to the inadequacy of existing drainage facilities. The NWA said that in order to rectify the issues, repairs would include the construction of a concrete box culvert, concrete u-drains, reinforced concrete retaining walls, sidewalks, kerb inlets and gully inverts.

In September a news release published on the NWA's website noted that the project suffered some delays “due to the existence of a 16-inch” pipe belonging to the National Water Commission (NWC) in the project area.

This issue was addressed, according to the statement, and the water line diverted from the path of the new box culvert. It was also revealed that the NWC intends to upgrade the sewerage system along the thoroughfare.

The statement added that “in anticipation of these works, a facility has also been constructed in order to prevent any damage to the drainage feature when those works are being undertaken”.

The estimated completion date up to this point was the end of September, but the project has exceeded two set deadlines — September and October.

Shaw told the Sunday Observer that the October deadline was not met because the island experienced increased levels of rainfall. He also placed blame at the feet of the contractor, whose progress he said was “very slow at times”.

“We had a number of outstanding items to be completed, due to delays. Delays came about as we took the decision to allow the NWC to install a sewer sleeve and manholes under the box culvert. This is for future development as there are plans by them to put in a sewer system in the area,” he said.

At present, the work, according to Shaw, is 71 per cent complete, as the box culvert, drains, fill and retaining walls were finished.

The communication and customer services manger pointed out that the base work and paving are left to be done, adding that “once those are finalised, we will then move to put in markings, signs and raised pavement markers”.

As for a new date of completion, Shaw said that the NWA is “not in a position to indicate a date, as the contractor has been tardy.

“We have in fact written the company and intend to meet with the principals this week on the matter. We are insisting that the works must be completed soon, especially as based on our accounts, the Government does not owe any money on this project,” Shaw told the Sunday Observer.

During the closure, motorists have been using the alternate routes — Constant Spring Grove to Constant Spring Road then on to Saxthorpe Avenue, or the reverse. They also use Lawrence Avenue to Sullivan Place then on to Sullivan Avenue.

Efforts to contact the contractors were unsuccessful.

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