MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Motorists eager for the completion of work on the US$188-million May Pen to Williamsfield leg of the east-west corridor of Highway 2000 will have to, once again, continue waiting as the project has been extended to March 2023.
The project — which will reduce travel time between Kingston, Mandeville and other points west — was originally scheduled for completion in October 2022. The last date of completion given was January 2023.
Representatives from the National Road Operating & Constructing Company (NROCC) — which is responsible for overseeing the design, construction and maintenance of Jamaica's highways — explained the new extension date and the progress made in constructing the highway, at a recent presentation to the Manchester Municipal Corporation.
The presentation, which was shared with the Jamaica Observer, stated that as of last December the highway was 57 per cent complete.
“The completion time was extended from October 2022 to March 2023 with the overall cost remaining the same,” the presentation read in part.
Last September, then senior manager for technical services at NROCC, George Nicholson explained that the contractor, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), had asked for a three-month extension.
“The contractor did ask for an extension of time. What we had with the project was a period before the start of [it] that was earmarked for investigations, and [the contractor] had asked us to tack that on to the back of the project,” he had said.
NROCC said the project includes the design and construction of approximately 23 kilometres of a four-lane, arterial divided highway on a new alignment and the upgrading of approximately five kilometres of the existing Melrose Hill Bypass to a four-lane, rural, arterial divided highway. It added that an interchange will be constructed at Clarendon Park, with a link road from the highway to the main road at a traffic signal-controlled intersection.
The company said significant progress has been made on the Rio Minho, St Anne Gully and Milk River bridges in Clarendon, which are all part of the highway project.
It added that approximately 100 graves have been relocated since the commencement of the highway project.
Following flooding concerns raised by residents of Redberry, near Porus in Manchester, over the highway's construction, NROCC explained that “detention ponds will be constructed on the north and south side of the right of way in the vicinity of the flood-prone area to minimise flooding”.
With the alignment of the highway set to incorporate the Melrose Hill Bypass, NROCC said following consultations with the local municipality and vendors at the Melrose Hill Yam Park, it has set aside land to build eight additional stalls.
These will be on the westbound side of the upgraded road to allow motorists heading in that direction to support vending along the corridor.
“There will be right-turn restrictions to the existing facility [yam park],due to the placement of a concrete median barrier that will separate both carriageways,” NROCC said.