Not acceptable! - St Mary residents say their roads need urgent attention
Today we begin a feature highlighting the state of the nation's roadways.
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
While the Government has made significant strides developing new highways and repairing roads in and around the Corporate Area, residents in rural parishes complain that their roads have been neglected and poorly maintained.
After heavy rains caused landslides and flooding throughout St Mary in December 2014, then junior minister for Transport and Works Richard Azan urged the parish's citizens to be patient about the speed of repairs.
However, 15 months later, most of the rehabilitation work remains incomplete, including a gaping chasm just outside the town of Port Maria, which forces busy traffic on the North Coast Highway into a single lane.
Similarly, roads that collapsed in Hamilton Mountain and Free Hill have not been repaired and, in Tryall, where a bridge was destroyed by flooding, a new pedestrian crossing has been constructed, but the road remains in an appalling state.
Free Hill resident Lucille Ennis insists that the main road in her community must be repaired immediately.
The 82-year-old retiree told The Gleaner: "They need to come and widen the road that sunk away so two vehicles can pass at the same time because, as it stands, one car has to stop and wait for the other to pass; it's really bad."
Elsewhere in St Mary, the roads in Annotto Bay and Jeffrey Town are in need of renovation, and the residents of Highgate insist their thoroughfares are among the worst in the parish.
Highgate resident Suzette Rhoden, 44, claims the main road in her district, Tremolesworth, is in desperate need of rehabilitation. She said: "The road was repaired around 2001, but has fallen into a bad condition since then. All entrances leading into the community need to be fixed, so it's really difficult if someone needs to go to the hospital late at night."
A Highgate-based taxi driver, who refused to be named, added: "The Tremolesworth road is like a riverbed. Certain parts are terrible because there is no proper drainage, so the rainwater is constantly moving the road."
Member of Parliament Dr Morais Guy acknowledged that work needs to be done on the route between Port Maria and Annotto Bay, and revealed plans to start upgrading the roads in Highgate later this month.
He said: "There is a huge breakaway section on the Highgate to Hopewell Road, which needs a retaining wall. The National Works Agency signed a contract with the previous Government for more than $20 million for the construction of a gabion basket, and that work is supposed to start in two to three weeks' time."