NEGRIL, Westmoreland — The Government is taking a major step towards improving the safety of road users in the busy resort town of Negril with the implementation of the first phase of a $19 million programme now being undertaken by the National Works Agency (NWA).
The initiative is aimed primarily at improving the safety of all road users who traverse the Norman Manley Boulevard.
The Norman Manley Boulevard is a two-lane corridor located in the heart of Negril's tourism district, which boasts seven miles of white sand beaches, unique accommodations, and other tourist attractions. The roadway consists of two travel lanes and is the main arterial link to the numerous accommodations and other businesses which operate along the strip.
The roadway, however, has been a cause of concern in recent years due to the high incidence of traffic accidents. It is against this background that the government has implemented a multi-faceted plan, aimed at reducing vehicular speeds, thereby reducing the probability of collisions and increasing pedestrian safety.
According to Community Relations Officer at the NWA, Janel Ricketts the first phase of the project involves the installation of three pedestrian actuated signals at critical points along the corridor.
"The locations were chosen based on a detailed study of pedestrian and vehicular movement in the area. The lights will function by separating vehicular and pedestrian movement, thereby creating an environment which is conducive to pedestrian safety and comfort. This infrastructure will also reduce vehicular speeds," Rickets explained.
Additionally, the NWA spokesperson said that the first phase of the project involves the construction of medians and cross -walks at four points along the corridor. These, she said, will also reduce vehicular speeds and will add to the ease with which pedestrians cross this busy thoroughfare.
The points which have been identified are in the vicinity of the Travellers Beach Hotel, Beachcomber Hotel, Grand Pineapple Negril and Sea Wind Resort.
Ricketts told the Observer West that the pedestrian lights have now been installed and that work now continues with the construction of other necessary infrastructure, such as the construction of medians and the installation of road signs and markings.
In the meantime, the NWA has plans to construct approximately 1.5 km of sidewalk from the Negril Community Centre to the Grand Pineapple Hotel.
"The sidewalk will be approximately three metres wide and will extend along the landside of the corridor. This aspect of the project is now at the procurement stage and forms part of a wider plan which will involve extending the sidewalk to the full length of the corridor, towards the Little Bay Country Club," Ricketts explained.
The Negril chapter of the JHTA, as well as several other business groups, have long called for the upgrading of sidewalks for pedestrians' safety in sections of the resort town of Negril.