Regional

New drain eases 'heavy water' in Santa Cruz

Monday, September 10, 2018

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Santa Cruz, St Elizabeth — Motorists and pedestrians on Pagon Drive, also known as the Santa Cruz Bypass, and 'back street' had reason to be pleased following heavy rain here on Saturday afternoon.

Just minutes after the showers ceased traffic flowed with relative ease despite ponding on sections of the roadway, while pedestrians — stepping cautiously — went about their business.

It would have been a different story just a few weeks ago, prior to a $10-million drainage project on the bypass road which takes much of the traffic away from the busy centre of Santa Cruz. Until very recently only drivers of large vehicles and those without local knowledge risked the 'back street' after heavy rain.

The roadway would also become impassable for pedestrians, with 'heavy water' forcing residents and visitors to stay put, sometimes for hours, until it receded.

“If a did first time (prior to the drainage project) every car wouldda haffi turn back and nobody couldn't walk here so,” bartender Shakira Burnett told Jamaica Observer Central on Saturday, pointing to the passing traffic as she spoke.

Member of Parliament for St Elizabeth North Eastern, Evon Redman, who identified drainage in Santa Cruz among his priorities on taking office in early 2016, representing the People's National Party (PNP), said the project which was supervised by the National Works Agency (NWA) was a source of considerable satisfaction for him.

“There is still a long way to go, but the work on the bypass which is basically phase one of a two-phase project will take a lot of the large volume of water which causes so much problem when there is rain,” Redman told Observer Central last week.

Back in the 2016 election campaign Redman had noted that “every time you have a shower of rain the entire town is flooded and traffic is backed up for hours”.

As described by the MP, the recent work involved construction of a “three-foot U-drain” which will now channel large quantities of rain water rushing downhill through the town from the Santa Cruz Mountains, to the Upper Black River Morass and the Black River via earth drains and a small stream, dubbed by locals as Bridge River.

Redman said phase two of the drainage project worth $23-million“ should be going to tender soon” and will involve another U-drain from the intersection of Main Street /Coke Drive at the centre of town, down Institution Drive to the newly developed drain on the back street.

The MP said that when the second phase is completed, ponding should be largely eliminated with rain water rushing off the atreet to the morass.

Redman, a 66-year-old businessman expressed appreciation for the “positive responses” to his representations from Everald Warmington, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Works.

Redman said improving the drainage situation in Santa Cruz was crucial for its further development and growth.

“Almost everyone in the constituency and in fact, most of St Elizabeth, visit Santa Cruz on a regular basis, some on a daily basis, for one reason or another. The town is the commercial centre of St Elizabeth, we can't continue with the situation where it is flooded every time rain falls”, Redman said.

Redman, who will be retiring from active politics after serving just one term, is hoping that in the time available to him, he will be able to initiate a project to divert water which rushes down Emmaus Road from Leeds in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains to the town.

“There are a lot of farmers on that stretch (Emmaus) who need water during dry weather. If we could divert water off the road during rain into storage ponds, it would help the farmers and at the same time significantly reduce flooding in the town,” Redman said.

Deputy General Secretary of the opposition PNP, Basil Waite, and Santa Cruz businessman, Delroy Slowley, representing the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), are expected to battle to replace Redman as MP for St Elizabeth North Eastern come the next parliamentary elections.

— Garfield Myers

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