Broadgate pain continues
... but NWA, MP say problematic roadway will be completed soon
Six years after the Government promised to rehabilitate the Broadgate, St Mary, thoroughfare, linking it to other corridors in the parish, the project is still in limbo and a constant source of frustration for residents and motorists.
The major Junction corridor, which links Kingston to northeastern Jamaica, is now on its fifth deadline, with no definite timeline for completion. And with each bout of frequent heavy rainfall, the project is further hampered.
Initially budgeted for $600 million, at least $1.2 billion has been spent so far on the project, but St Mary South Eastern Member of Parliament (MP) Dr Norman Dunn, in acknowledging the lengthy delay, is convinced it will be worth the wait.
Last week, Dunn said some aspects of the work should be completed by the end of November, with full completion by December into early 2023.
The National Works Agency (NWA) said Phase II of the project has been deemed substantially completed as at June 2022, but minor outstanding work is left.
During the October 2017 by-election courtship, the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) promised to rehabilitate several miles of road in the Broadgate area of the St Mary South Eastern constituency, to complement work that was already being done in the Annotto Bay to Buff Bay, Portland, area.
Dunn recently told Parliament, “Apart from the construction that we all know about generally, Junction is one of our rainforests. Water is always in Junction; therefore, the road surface is always at risk of deteriorating. Right now, there is a section between Broadgate and a section called Masey Yard … . It is very bad.”
He said heavy-duty trucks, especially those pulling aggregate from the river and with water dripping from them, were also a nuisance to the work.
“They have contributed, I believe, to some of the deterioration of the surface. There is an attempt to fix a section where the trucks park which is very, very bad, but I don’t have the money for that yet,” the JLP MP told The Sunday Gleaner last week, noting that while the sink in the road remains a watery-potholed irritation, work is taking place in the river.
“There are some diamond buttresses that they are building deep into the river and carrying them all the way up to the road. So it holds the roads itself to prevent the sinking,” explained Dunn, adding that when concrete is poured on to the surface, there is a 28-day wait period for it to be fully dried before another layer can be added.
“What the National Works Agency has told me is that hopefully they will finish the diamonds by the end of November and after that, the entire road surface in that vicinity will be completely resurfaced and that will take them up to the end of the year. That is what I reported in Parliament,” he told The Sunday Gleaner, noting that paving was required between the road and embankment, but fibre cables were to be laid as well.
NWA chief executive E.G. Hunter said the Junction roadwork has faced myriad problems, but he is optimistic that it will be completed soon.
“The Government of Jamaica Roads Rehabilitation Project – Phase II, Tom’s River to Agualta Vale (TRAV) Package I – St Mary, has been deemed substantially completed (approximately 95 per cent complete) as of June 9, 2022,” Hunter told The Sunday Gleaner last week.
“Most of the safety features, to include signs, pavement markings and raised pavement markers, have been completed. Thereafter, the project has a defects notification period of 15 months, during which the contractor is to complete minor outstanding works and remedy any defects along the corridor.”
He added, “Some of the outstanding works include shaping of slopes, installation of two bus shelters, driveways and accesses. All outstanding works are scheduled to be completed during this period.”
Minister with responsibility for works, Everald Warmington, told the House of Representatives in 2021 that $350 million was the price tag for the Chovey breakaway. However, the NWA said the total bill was $29 million more than announced.
According to Hunter, “The Chovey slope stabilisation works is being constructed under a separate contract, with deadlines outside of that allotted for the TRAV project. Chovey works, which affects 160m of the 4.8km TRAV corridor, is slated for substantial completion during the 2022-2023 fiscal year.”
Last week when The Sunday Gleaner team visited the area, motorists and residents shared that they were tired of the promises.
On observation, sections of the problematic thoroughfare could only accommodate single-lane traffic. There were also unfinished retaining walls and other areas prepped for walls to be built, as well as a pile-up of waste along another section while work was also being done in the river.
At one point, a taxi operator let out a string of expletives as his car shut off after falling into a deep pothole disguised by water.
Various contractors are involved in the project, but motorists have given them a failing grade.
“Dem people doing this road a really fool. If dem coulda do it, dem woulda done long time,” said a motorist as he crawled through the water, hissing his teeth and flashing his hand in anger.
Another sat quietly and waited for his turn to go through the swampy roadway.
“I know it’s long and inconveniencing and we expected that this project would have been completed a long time ago, but it also has challenges. But it will be worth the wait, I believe,” MP Dunn assured.