- NORMAN GRINDLEY/DEPUTY CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER
Residents of Portmore, St. Catherine, make their way in heavy traffic on the causeway to Kingston on Friday morning as workmen from Highway 2000 construct the new six-lane Toll Road bridge.
Leonardo Blair, Enterprise Reporter
IN A stark shift from their 'no toll road' stance, the majority of motorists in Portmore, St. Catherine are willing to pay a maximum $30 toll to use the new toll road being constructed by Bouygues to enter their community, according to a recent poll.
A GLEANER-commissioned survey of some 600 Portmore drivers, conducted between August 20 and 21 by Johnson Survey Research Ltd., showed that when motorists were asked what was the most they would be willing to pay to use the new causeway, the most frequent answer was $30. The average of all the responses was just under $31. The poll, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 per cent, also showed that 55 per cent of drivers from Jamaica's youngest and fastest-growing city are now in favour of the Portmore leg of Highway 2000.
This leg of the highway is expected to go from the KFC outlet at the Portmore Mall and across the causeway, which will be widened to six lanes, then to the old zinc factory on Marcus Garvey Drive. Also from the Portmore Mall, the highway will run parallel to Dawkins Drive and connect to the old Dyke Road. It will then follow the Hunts Bay shoreline and the west bank of the Rio Cobre, then on to Old Harbour. The trip from the Portmore Mall to Marcus Garvey Drive is expected to take less than five minutes, regardless of the time of day.
Some 37 per cent or 222 of the respondents in the poll live in the Greater Portmore area.
While the toll charge for the new highway is yet to be determined, the Portmore segment has been the centre of controversy among residents of the community and the Government for many months. Sections of a divided community voice, first charged that they should not be required to pay the projected $65 toll to enter and leave the dormitory community which has a population of over 200,000 people. They also filed at least two separate lawsuits against the Government over its handling of the toll deal.
In early August, however, the Portmore Citizens' Advisory Council, which had supported one of the lawsuits, decided to call off its legal battle. The council had taken the Government to court over its decision to turn the causeway into a toll road without the provision of a suitable alternative route. The court, however, ruled in favour of the Government.
In July 2004, scores of angry Portmore residents declared that they were prepared to fight 'tooth, nail and lawsuit' against the proposed plan for a $65 per trip toll charge across the high-speed six-lane bridge currently being constructed by the French company Bouygues Travaux Publics.