Infrastructure Minister Stephenson King has stated that motorists can anticipate better road conditions within the coming months as government moves speedily to repair the road networks on the island.
Speaking to reporters recently, King said, during the last month the department had “accelerated” the road works, amid some more favourable weather conditions.
Notably, the minister disclosed, a $1million project has been launched to deal with the aggravating ‘pot-holes’ situation on the island’s roads.
“What we have done is to develop a strategy, which involves private contractors and not just the ministry’s in-house crew working on the roads, but we do have several private contractors engaged on the roads,” declared King.
He said, lately, there has been no communication with the mini-bus drivers association concerning “the critical roads which are affecting them”. However, the minister said, the department has drawn up a list of “critical roads on our programme that we are tackling as time goes on.”
King said, focus is being placed on the Julian R Hunte Highway along the Castries – Gros Islet Highway as an area where “quite a bit of work has taken place …and in other communities throughout the country, we have done some work.”
In addition, he said, the ministry plans to launch a second programme ahead of the Christmas holiday season, and “we anticipate another million- dollar programme to stay on top of the situation, now that the weather seems to be giving us a chance.”
Referring to the Rodney Bay road project that was undertaken by the previous administration, King explained: “This is a project which was done outside the Ministry of Infrastructure’s remit under a special arrangement. There were matters pertaining to the methodology used in going ahead with the road, it was done without any engineering designs.”
Subsequently, the minister said, the department conducted an audit on that road project and “we have come up with a number of issues that must be addressed, based on the design. But that road now becomes part of the overall road development (works) from Choc to Gros Islet.”
He disclosed that this latter project will be financed by the Kuwaiti government and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and “we’re hoping that come the new year, we’ll be able to fit that …as part of the Infrastructure Year 2024.”
King also commented on the likely congestion that may result with heavy traffic in the Bois d’Orange area, particularly in the vicinity of the recently completed Orange Groove Mall.
He said, the ministry is currently assessing the situation and they have come up with about three or four options “in terms of how we manage the traffic.”
The minister proposed some alterations to the road network, including the erection of a round-about between the Bois d’Orange gap and the gas station, as well as, a bridge connecting the Bois d’Orange Commercial Centre with the back road.
“With that configuration…you would be able to regulate and control the traffic from the back road on to the main road, while at the same time distributing the traffic to the various points along that location,” he explained.
Regarding the Millennium Highway, King said, the CDB is due to revisit the project this month and moving forward, government will determine the next course of action “if we’re not satisfied with what’s going on.” He said more information will be forthcoming upon completion of that mission.
While stating that he was not “totally satisfied” with the ongoing works along the Millennium Highway, nevertheless, he said, “some progress is being made and again I’m concerned about the delays on the project.”
Commenting on the proposed North- South road network to alleviate traffic congestion on the main northern-bound routes, King said, ‘it is a project that is still within our sight.”
However, he hastened to add, “The preliminary expenditure on that road is anything near USD600 million, which is about EC$1.8billion. We are looking at it, and we are looking at other alternatives.
“So, when we speak of the Castries-Gros Islet Highway, from Choc to Gros Islet, in that also we are looking at another parallel highway from the Bois D’Organge bridge through Corinth into Choc, at the roundabout.”
King continued, “That in itself is a major project that we are looking (into) for the long term. But, in addition to that is to improve …the back roads, those relief roads to make them more attractive, safer and comfortable.”
Summing up the road works programme to be dealt with, King asserted: “In 2024 …a major investment will take place in our road networks, notwithstanding the works that we’ve done for the year.”