Gareth Davis, Gleaner Writer
PORT ANTONIO, Portland:
E G. Hunter, chief executive officer of the National Works Agency, has reassured residents of New Road and Saint Margaret's Bay Heights that the problem of an access road leading into their communities will be addressed in short order.
Hunter was speaking with the residents on Wednesday during a tour of the newly constructed US$28-million state-of-the-art bridge at Saint Margaret's Bay.
The Rio Grande will replace the old railway bridge, which was opened to vehicular traffic more than five years ago, following the collapse of the original bridge during flood rains in 2006.
But while the bridge will give access to motorists entering and leaving Port Antonio, residents in two neighbouring communities are crying foul, as their access road does not have a direct link to the new roadway leading to the bridge, forcing them to walk approximately half a mile to get to the main thoroughfare, so as to access public passenger vehicles.
"I do not want to commit myself. But, residents can rest assured that their concerns will be addressed. We are aware of their discomfort and the perception that they now have to travel additional distances, and the impact that it might have on travelling costs," said Hunter.
"Under no circumstance will we permit direct road access on to the bridge, because of obvious safety concerns. However, the technical solution involves continued utilisation of the old railway bridge and the realignment of the under path road."
Meanwhile, Richard Azan, state minister in the ministry of transport and works, expressed satisfaction with the work done so far and lauded the contractors China Harbour for the high quality work done on the new Rio Grande bridge, which is way ahead of schedule.