Adequate sidewalks important part of road redevelopment, says NWA
Pedestrians and the disabled are being adequately catered for with the provision of ample sidewalk space as part of the redevelopment of a number of roadways across the Corporate Area, according to the relevant authorities.
A tour of three of the major road-construction areas by the Gleaner team earlier this week confirmed, in some instances, the National Works Agency's commitment to ensuring that proper walk areas formed part of the redevelopment.
In the Barbican area, which is now complete, for the most part, pedestrians and persons confined to wheelchairs can traverse that corridor safely because of proper sidewalks.
On Constant Spring Road, which is still under construction, in the vicinity of the Immaculate Conception High School, there is evidence that provisions are being made to construct proper sidewalks.
A determination could not be made, however, about sidewalk provisions on Hagley Park Road due to the current state of the ongoing construction.
Communications manager at the National Works Agency (NWA), Stephen Shaw, told The Gleaner yesterday that their plan had always catered for the safety of all members of the travelling public - motorists and pedestrians - including the disabled.
"We took the decision many years ago that when we are doing work in any built-up area, whether in or out of Kingston, we have to put sidewalks in. In designing roads, we design also for pedestrians. When we are doing any work in built-up areas, we acquire quite a bit of land to widen the road because we are cognisant of the need to separate vehicular traffic from pedestrian," Shaw said.
DANGEROUS TO WALK
In spite of the NWA's commitment, a member of the blind community, Alister McLean, who is an executive member of the Jamaica Labour Party's youth affiliate group, Young Jamaica, said that there are many areas already developed with inadequate sidewalks.
"It is commendable that the new projects facilitate persons with disabilities in terms of broadening sidewalks. This gives persons in wheelchairs the opportunity to access these areas. Persons who are visually challenged can use these sidewalks, too," McLean said.
"However, there are some thoroughfares in the Corporate Area that persons with disabilities traverse daily that are dangerous because of inadequate or poor walk areas. When you look at certain sections of Hope Road and Old Hope Road, you will find a lot of broken sidewalks. That is the case even in areas like Portmore, St Catherine, where you have a large disabled population."