Sun | Mar 7, 2021

With road set to open, Savage Pen still driving fear

Published:Monday | January 18, 2021 | 12:17 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Marlon Kelly said that drivers of two-wheel-drive vehicles on the Savage Pen road should expect more transmission and engine problems as their cars will come under extreme pressure when tackling the steep thoroughfare.
Marlon Kelly said that drivers of two-wheel-drive vehicles on the Savage Pen road should expect more transmission and engine problems as their cars will come under extreme pressure when tackling the steep thoroughfare.
Caroline Henry said that she doesn’t think the Savage Pen road will be completed in time for Monday’s scheduled opening.
Caroline Henry said that she doesn’t think the Savage Pen road will be completed in time for Monday’s scheduled opening.
Residents gather on Sunday near a car that ran off the Savage Pen road, crashing into a house a day earlier.
Residents gather on Sunday near a car that ran off the Savage Pen road, crashing into a house a day earlier.
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Frank Blake and his family narrowly missed death or injury on Thursday evening when a motor vehicle skidded off the steep Savage Pen road and landed on its top a few feet from their house.

No one was hurt in that incident, but another vehicle careened off the thoroughfare on Saturday and crashed into a house approximately 50 metres uphill from Blake’s home, rendering the driver unconscious.

Savage Pen is an alternative route for residents of the hilly heights of the St Andrew East Rural constituency after storm rains in November triggered a massive breakaway along the Gordon Town main road, forcing commuters to travel up to three hours to head into the city instead of what routinely took 35 minutes.

The road was initially scheduled to be reopened just after Christmas but works czar E.G. Hunter said persistent rains would push back the project by three or four weeks.

Even as crewmen worked feverishly to compact and asphalt the Savage Pen strip on Sunday, commuters still describe the corridor as a death trap.

LONG-TIME FEAR

Blake said he had long feared that a mishap might have occurred near his home, especially in wet weather.

“As soon as it drop and sekkle and me come round and look, all mi see a di car spread out on the top. ... By time me come round, di man fly out a di car already,” said Blake, who recommends that a retaining wall be built above his house.

Twelve-year-old T’sahai Morrison, who resides at the location, said she was shaken by the incident.

“We hear the commotion and we see the car and a pure smoke. Me did frighten because mi think the place woulda catch fire. Me did devastated,” the minor said.

Paving of Savage Pen by the National Works Agency was expected to be completed on Sunday for a formal opening today, but when a news team visited the area, most of the roadway had not yet been asphalted, with many residents surmising it wouldn’t be ready for today.

Despite wide-scale disgruntlement, Joshua Bryan, a taxi driver, has a contrasting view of Savage Pen’s viability. He believes that the route is safe to traverse and argues that many residents are making a mountain out of a molehill.

“Nothing nuh do the road. The people dem just love create excitement,” said Bryan.

“The Government done tell dem seh who cannot manage it, must go round the road because there is another route. But nuff a dem a seh round deh far.”

Marlon Kelly warned that even when the road is officially opened, only drivers of four-wheel-drive vehicles should manoeuvre Savage Pen’s hilly terrain.

“Now that it has some marl and seems to be a lot smoother, a lot of persons are taking their chances down it and are not approaching it the correct way. When using that road, you can’t be in a hurry.”

He continued: “If you need to go to the hospital, at least you can get out by driving a four-wheel drive. It gets a little scary for the lady drivers. My advice to them is to have somebody with experience accompany them, and you have to take it slow.”

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com