Old Melrose Hill road undergoes rehabilitationTuesday, July 27, 2021
BY KASEY WILLIAMS
MANDEVILLE, Manchester — The old Melrose Hill road, which had been in a state of disrepair for years, is now being rehabilitated to be used as a detour while work progresses on the May Pen to Williamsfield leg of Highway 2000.
George Nicholson, acting managing director of National Road Operating & Constructing Company, which is responsible for overseeing the design, construction and maintenance of Jamaica's highways, explained that the detour is necessary to facilitate work on the Melrose Bypass.
“The original plan had us rehabilitating the old Melrose Hill road as a bypass but the design of the corridor changed, so what they're doing now is, they are going to be doing some detours — as the construction is going to impede easy flow [of traffic] on the Melrose Bypass,” Nicholson told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
He said traffic will be diverted for the purpose of safety while construction is taking place on the Melrose Bypass.
“What we don't want to have happen is to detour somebody to an alternative route that they experience diminished service. All of the detours are well-paved… Where we are going to have [heavy duty equipment] working on the Melrose Bypass itself, it might cause a safety problem for vehicles, so we might have to isolate the area that we are working,” said Nicholson.
Before the current Melrose Hill Bypass was constructed more than 30 years ago, commuters travelling between Kingston, Mandeville and other points west along the south coast relied on the old Melrose Hill road.
When completed, the Melrose Bypass will be incorporated into the new alignment of the highway, with a four-lane dual carriageway.
Work on the US$188-million highway is scheduled for completion in October 2022.
“We are about 40 per cent complete for the highway; if not hitting our deadline, we should be [finishing] it within our deadline. Of course, some of the work would have been impaired because of the coronavirus restrictions that are in place now. [It] means that the contractor can't necessarily be as productive as he would like to be,” said Nicholson.
He reiterated that when completed, commuters will be able to use the Melrose section of the highway without paying a toll.
“It will remain toll-free, so anybody who is going to be moving between Mandeville and Porus, or vice versa, will be using the new highway without a toll,” he said.
Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for Manchester Central Rhoda Crawford welcomed the rehabilitation of the old road.
“I am very excited about the work that is being done because for years the people of Melrose have been begging and pleading for improved road infrastructure. I am also very happy that we are able to provide employment opportunities for the [people] in the community. It is a win for the people of the community, those employed, and all the motorists who will use the road,” she said.
Crawford disclosed that the National Works Agency is the implementing agency, with the project being sponsored by China Harbour Engineering Company. Asphalt measuring 4,500 square metres will be laid, spanning 2.5 kilometres.
Nicholson said dialogue with affected residents and their political representatives is ongoing.
Residents of Redberry, a community south of Porus, have in recent months complained of dust and noise nuisance.
“We are trying to ensure that we work well with the community to ensure that [it] is not impaired by [construction]. We are meeting with the political representatives in the area to ensure that the concerns of the residents are adequately treated,” said Nicholson.