Jamaican News

Expanded Mandela Highway to Ease Travelling Time

With the expansion of Mandela Highway in St. Catherine under way, the Government is fulfilling its commitment of upgrading the island’s road network.

The Mandela Highway is one of the country’s major roadways, and while the ongoing work may result in delays, particularly during peak hours, motorists and pedestrians will experience significant improvement in travelling time when the project is completed in August 2018.

This roadway is one of the vital links between the Kingston metropolitan area and the northern, western and southern parts of the country.

In an interview with JIS News, Manager of Communications and Customer Service, National Works Agency (NWA), Stephen Shaw, says expansion of the highway will ease travelling time for motorists and improve traffic flow.

“Persons will be able to get to work feeling more energised. Persons will get to work earlier. There should be a reduction in the loss of productive time,” he adds.

Mr. Shaw argues that the improved road condition is also expected to have a positive impact on the country’s fuel bill.

“Fuel is not produced here in Jamaica. It’s something that we have to spend foreign exchange to purchase. So, if vehicles become more fuel-efficient in terms of being able to move from point A to point B that much quicker, then that also will benefit the country, as we’ll be able to reduce our fuel bill,” he says.

Project Manager, NWA, Linval Ramdial, tells JIS News that the project, which began in August 2016, is slated to last 24 months and is approximately 30 per cent complete.

“We are currently doing the cement mixing pile and we are also supplying and installing the subgrade material for the road. We are also doing some amount of drainage work, and storm-water drainage works,” he notes.

He says the next phase of operation should see the workmen building two bridges, one of which will be overhead, adding that this should be completed by May.

Mr. Ramdial points out that keeping the roadway open during the construction period and ensuring that the services of the utility companies remain intact are some of the challenges being faced during the construction period.

“Doing the cement mixing pile means we are going underground about 7.5 to nine metres and, of course, we don’t want to damage National Water Commission (NWC) mains, Digicel cables or Flow cables,” he says.

Mr. Ramdial tells JIS News that collaboration among the various companies is being undertaken to ensure that this process is carried out seamlessly.

In the meantime, Mr. Ramdial is appealing to drivers to slow down on the Mandela Highway to ensure their safety as well as that of pedestrians and workers.

Usually, 80,000 vehicles traverse the roadway daily, and the current upgrading work focuses on 3.6 kilometres of roadway from the Six Miles overpass to the off/on ramps to the Highway 2000 East West Corridor.

Construction is being carried out by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) under a US$64-million contract, part of the Major Infrastructure Development Programme (MIDP), being financed through a concessionary loan from the Government of China.

Upgrading of the roadway will increase the number of lanes from four to six and the road will be lifted in some sections. In addition, the east-bound ramp to Washington Boulevard will be increased to two lanes, up from the current single lane.

The contract to widen and upgrade Mandela Highway was signed in July 2016 and work began a month later.

Article by: Chris Patterson
Photo from: www.jis.gov.jm

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