Hanover gets first traffic signal
But location at entrance to private development irks many
Hanover's first traffic signal at the entrance to Oceanpointe, a private housing development. (Photo: Anthony Lewis)

POINT, Hanover — The move to install Hanover's first-ever traffic light at the entrance to a private development has drawn sharp criticism from some who argue that it would have been more useful in the congested towns of Lucea or Hopewell. It has been installed at the intersection of the Northern Coastal Highway and Oceanpointe Housing Development.

According to Jamaica Observer sources, the traffic signal, which was installed by the National Works Agency (NWA), is a collaborative effort between the NWA and Oceanpointe's developer.

Member of Parliament Dave Brown (Jamaica Labour Party), in whose Hanover Eastern constituency the housing development is located, is among the most vocal critics.

"I am pretty upset as the MP for Hanover Eastern. Hopewell should have been given priority. That is just a light standing by itself. This is where traffic is — Hopewell and Lucea," he argued.

Brown has been lobbying for a solution to be found to the traffic congestion in Hopewell since he took office in 2016.

He is concerned that the placement of the traffic signal sends a message that only those who can afford to pay for traffic lights will get them.

"That is where I have the problem. The message is wrong. Are you saying to me that if you don't pay for it? That is really the problem that I have and I spoke to the prime minister about three weeks ago. He had asked me to give him some time to check into it as to why it was installed there. So I can't say anything more until the prime minister gets back to me," Brown told the Jamaica Observer on Monday.

However, Hanover Western MP Tamika Davis (JLP) has no problem with a private developer paying to have a traffic light installed at the location of its choice.

"I understand what the residents of Oceanpointe are saying. It is a private development and they would have put their monies towards it. We have no issue with that but we are just saying, on our side, let us see how best we can treat with the urgency of the congestion in the town," she said.

Well-known Hanover resident Craig Oats, who was among those who took to social media to vent their dissatisfaction with the issue, also wants to see both issues addressed simultaneously.

"I think the Government's priorities are misguided and misplaced because I feel that Hopewell and Lucea have a more urgent traffic need. Even if it has been purchased by the residents of Oceanpointe, it should have been that the Government should simultaneously think about both traffic lights," he told the Jamaica Observer. "[This] is really a thumbs down and disrespect to the people of Hanover."

However, the NWA's community relations officer for the western region Janel Ricketts explained that the decision was based on the results of a traffic study that examined issues such as the width of the road. She also noted that the light was placed at that spot primarily to address safety issues and traffic management.

"With the number of houses over there, the number of persons that would have been making their way onto the roadway in terms of traffic management and safety, generally, it is seen best to have a traffic light there," she said.

Up to press time she was unable to give the cost of the lights and say when they will be in use.

"The major infrastructure has been in place, the road markings have been done and it is just the remaining fine-tuning [electrical installation and testing] of what is there," stated Ricketts.

The position of the light has been a contentious issue for months. At a recent monthly meeting of the Hanover Municipal Corporation Mayor of Lucea Sheridan Samuels said he had no objection to its placement. He believes it will help reduce traffic accidents.

"I think it will benefit us more knowing what is going to take place there… I must say it again that I'm not against it. Progress is not something that I will work against," he said.

Traffic congestion has been a major problem in Hopewell and Lucea for years, and it is not rare for motorists to be stuck in long lines of traffic for up to two hours during peak hours.

There have long been calls for a bypass to be built for the town of Lucea. About four years ago Prime Minister Andrew Holness promised that one would be built but that project is yet to get off the ground.

BY ANTHONY LEWIS Observer writer

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