Gov't scraps St Thomas highway plans ... announces toll road for MoBay
Citing economics behind the decision, finance minister Audley Shaw has revealed that his Government will not follow through on the construction of the Southern Coastal Highway, planned by the previous administration for eastern Jamaica, even as he announced the establishment of a four-lane bypass road for the city of Montego Bay.
Addressing a luncheon hosted by the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry during the annual staging of its development forum at the Montego Bay Convention Centre yesterday, Shaw revealed that the Government has looked at the economic viability of several road-improvement projects proposed by the previous administration.
Does not make sense
"How could we justify spending US$500 million on a highway to St Thomas. It just does not make economic sense," Shaw argued.
"Even if it is unpopular, the Government has a duty to do the necessary due diligence, and what I want to assure the people of St Thomas is that in the recasting of the Estimates, we are going to ensure that there is a decent road from Harbour View to Morant Bay."
Shaw said repairs and realignment work would also be done on the 65km stretch from Morant Bay to Port Antonio.
He also announced that the Government would construct a four-lane toll road to bypass the town centre of the city of Montego Bay at a projected cost of US$200 million.
Currently, motorists travelling through the popular tourist capital are forced to endure long delays along the 2.31km Howard Cooke Boulevard and the alternative route, which takes them through the heart of the commercial district.
Stakeholders have argued that the tourist capital, earmarked for billions of dollars in investment in the coming years, could have major problems if infrastructure is not in place to support proposed commercial developments.
Shaw said the bypass would begin in Ironshore, run through Flower Hill, and end at West Gate.