Wed | Apr 26, 2017

‘One-way stupidity’ - Mayor of Lucea demands new traffic management system

Published:Sunday | March 12, 2017 | 3:00 AMClaudia Gardner
Traffic at a standstill on Hanover Street, also called 'Main Street' in Lucea, Hanover, last week.
Traffic congestion is almost a daily occurrence on the streets of Lucea.
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WESTERN BUREAU:

Mayor of Lucea Sheridan Samuels is demanding that the National Works Agency (NWA) moves immediately to reverse a decade-old decision to convert all roadways within the town centre into one-way thoroughfares.

Samuels told The Sunday Gleaner that residents are dissatisfied with the quality of traffic management in the town, particularly the chaos at some intersections, congestion on Hanover Street, and the inconvenience being faced by motorists who want to conduct business, due to the one-way movement of traffic.

"NWA had a traffic committee - which included the parish council at the time - that sat down and redesigned the road network in the town. They redesigned the whole thing and turn it inna foolishness," argued Samuels.

"Yes, because you have a narrow one-way street taking all the traffic passing through from Montego Bay end, while we have the broader road, Willie DeLisser Boulevard, that can take two-way traffic. All that has to be done is that they just move the paid parking areas and turn the boulevard back into a two-way.

"Parish council is not collecting anything from them now, so you couldn't use that as any reason not to (do so)," added Samuels.

He said the municipal council is culpable of regulating traffic in the town as its officers had consented to the traffic changes in 2008.

BUSINESS PEOPLE NOT AT FAULT

In 2014, his predecessor Wynter McIntosh had said the council would prohibit parking on Main Street and restrict supermarket goods-delivery hours there. But according to Samuels, the business people should not be blamed.

Samuels said he had already outlined in detail his ideas for solving the problem to the NWA during a tour in January, shortly after he took office.

"We looked at it and had discussions with the acting superintendent and the CEO, and the council is in agreement to turn Willie DeLisser Boulevard back into a two-way road.

"It is stupidness they did because you have to go all the way around through Haughton Gardens to go to JPS and all dem thing deh. That's why people not paying their bills, because people don't want to drive go so far just fi go JPS fi go pay bills, while they could just drive through the town and drive up and go pay it," said Samuels.

"It is not the business people's fault. They are not the problem re the traffic congestion in the town. It is the agencies. The problem arose from the agencies and the foolish decisions that they made - when I say the agencies, I am talking about the municipal corporation and the National Works Agency. They have been the problem," charged Samuels.

In 2008, the NWA announced that Millers Drive, Bigwell Lane, Moseley Drive, and Cressy's Lane would be converted to one-way due to delays on Hanover Street, which was unable to accommodate the volume of vehicular traffic during peak hours.

Since then, numerous calls have come for the reversal of the system, from residents as well as two former mayors, Lester Crooks and Lloyd Hill, who said the changes had worsened the congestion problem.

NO VIEW OF LANDMARK

For Samuels, the traffic changes have also stymied the town's efforts to showcase the 200-year-old Lucea clock as part of its heritage tourism thrust.

"When the tourists coming through the town, they can't get to see the best thing that we have - the clock - because they pass the building sideways and they don't see the beauty of the clock and the building itself," said Samuels.

"The clock itself is now 200 years old. Look at the rich history; and we now in the town sit down and divert the tourists away from it, when we could be using it as a tourist attraction and get tourists to stop in the town. All because the man dem stupidly change the road network."

According to the mayor, the NWA has failed to take steps to erect stop lights to regulate traffic flow in the town, particularly at the intersection of Millers Drive and Hanover Street, despite a glaring need.

"The NWA don't listen to we who are a part of the town and are trying to develop the town. They are the ones who have total control over where vehicles can traverse. Imagine, Lucea is one of two capital towns in Jamaica that don't have a stop light.

"Why is it that they can't sit down and reorganise the traffic situation in the town? They just come and pass through at 9 o'clock inna di morning and pass back 5 o'clock and gone home ... Me naw stop fight until we get this road situation fixed," declared Samuels.