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Landowners offer NWA properties to bypass dangerous bridge

Published:Thursday | July 11, 2019 | 12:08 AMAdrian Frater/News Editor
The detoriating Paradise Bridge in  Ferris, Westmoreland.
The detoriating Paradise Bridge in Ferris, Westmoreland.

Western Bureau:

Landowners in the proximity of the crumbling Paradise Bridge near Ferris in Westmoreland have expressed a willingness to provide the authorities with the lands needed to create an alternative route along the corridor to bypass the existing bridge, which is considered extremely unsafe.

The offer was made during a town hall meeting at the Ferris Primary School on the weekend, where stakeholders, including Central Westmoreland Member of Parliament Dwayne Vaz; Savanna-la-Mar Mayor Bertel Moore; Moses Chybar, president of the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce; and representatives from the National Works Agency (NWA), discussed plans to replace the bridge.

“All stakeholders were unified in agreeing that an alternative route or bypass along the same corridor as the Paradise Bridge was urgently needed,” Chybar told The Gleaner.

During the meeting, concerns were raised about not having a bypass in place before the bridge, which is earmarked to be repaired by the NWA, is closed.

According to the residents, the alternative route, which is via Sweet River, is unsafe and would prove extremely costly to both transport operators and commuters.

“Unless the bypass is put in place, some students from Savanna-la-Mar and its environs, who attend Ferris (Primary School), may be out of school for the entire period of construction,” said a concerned parent.

Transport operators also expressed concern that in addition to the increased expense, using the Sweet River route would contravene their licence and open them up to legal jeopardy with the Transport Authority and the police.

“In addition, the fares would have to be significantly increased,” one transport operator told The Gleaner. “There is also the likelihood of significant traffic congestion in the various districts leading into Savanna-la-Mar.”

The heavily used Paradise Bridge caters to persons travelling to and from Savanna-la-Mar from communities such as Cave, Bluefields, and Whitehouse, which is home to scores of hotel workers who travel to and from Negril on a daily basis.

Following a recent threat by Mayor Moore to take action if the NWA did not begin repair works within 30 days, Janel Ricketts, community relations officer at the NWA’s Western Region, told The Gleaner that a $48-million contract had been awarded for the replacement of the Paradise Bridge and that work should begin shortly.