Sun | Feb 25, 2018

New highway could take a toll on your pocket

Published:Tuesday | March 15, 2016 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju
Cars and other vehicle have to be in great shape but a low gear will get you over the highest parts.
Construction of the rest stop is now in high gear at Unity Valley.

The drive from the Corporate Area to Ewarton in St Catherine or Moneague, St Ann, or any other towns along the way is now a lot smoother, shorter, and definitely much more enjoyable, but it comes at a high cost. It's not the extra fuel, or food and drink money you are likely to spend at any of the shops, but the accumulation of toll fees that will hit you hard in the pocket.

A test run of the new North South Highway starting at the Caymanas (St Catherine) entrance by a Gleaner team, which took us to Unity Valley in St Ann and back to the North Street, downtown Kingston, office was a welcome break. And it was quite breathtaking. Actually, Phase 2A of the North South Highway 2000 project is 67.2 kilometres long - running from Caymanas, St Catherine, to Mammee Bay in St Ann but without the traffic nightmares of yesteryear.

For, while the new highway crosses the Rio Cobre, it bypasses Mount Rosser and Flat Bridge, taking

travellers on a journey through the communities of Waterloo, Content, Gibraltar, and Wakefield in St Catherine. It also offers a glimpse into the St Ann communities of Phoenix Park, Golden Grove, Steerfield, and Davis Town.

Game-changing rest stop

The rest stop at Unity Valley in St Ann, which is due for completion very soon, is poised to be a game changer in local travel offerings, boasting, as it will, proper vendor stalls, fast-food stores, independent sanitary conveniences, as well as a 24-hour mechanic's shop. Then, there is the service station that will be located directly across the road from the rest stop but which is easily accessed en route to getting back on the highway.

Representatives of China Harbour Engineering Company declined to provide details of the new toll fees for the new Caymanas, Angels, or Moneague segments of the new roadway, but if the rates at the Mount Rosser toll plaza are any many measure of what is to come, motorists might want to shift gears.

"We are not at liberty to disclose such information just yet until it has been announced to the public. We will not be able to disclose the price that it will be," the representative said.

As it now stands, motorists accessing the highway at Angels and Caymanas in St Catherine and Moneague, St Ann, will continue to enjoy a free ride until a time to be determined by the operators. Fees at the Mount Rosser toll booth are as follows:

n Class 1 - $300

n Class 2 - $650

n Class 3 - $980

n Class 4 - $160, for motorbikes and three-wheel vehicles.

So if you are heading to Montego Bay, St James, any time after the other toll fees kick in, it could cost you quite a pretty penny to get there and back. Until then, enjoy the ride!