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Junction main road rehabilitation brings boon and bane

Published:Monday | April 22, 2019 | 12:20 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer
Motorists drive past boulders that were dug from the hillside in Broadgate, St Mary, amid works to widen the roadway.
Motorists drive past boulders that were dug from the hillside in Broadgate, St Mary, amid works to widen the roadway.

Pedestrian safety along the Junction main road in the vicinity of Broadgate was atop Judy Dill’s mind when The Gleaner caught up with her near the Seventh-day Adventist Church there last Thursday.

Dill was perched on a table enjoying the shade provided by a shop, which was closed for business. She should have been on the other side of the road to catch a minibus or taxi going to the town of Annotto Bay, but she had a better view of the approaching vehicles. That way, she would not have to cross the roadway on her own and avoid careless motorists.

Two years ago, the Government undertook a $626-million project to ­rehabilitate the main road linking the Corporate Area with St Mary. Surrey Paving and Aggregates Limited was contracted to complete the Tom’s River to Agualta Vale section of the project. The aim of the overall project is to reduce travel time and improve comfort.

Improving safety along the entire corridor is another primary deliverable. As far as Dill is concerned, however, the last component of the project is one that neither government nor contractors have much control over, and for her, that is a major concern.

“Whenever I want anything from the shop, I ask Raquel,” she explained, referring to her neighbour who lives across the street. “She doesn’t have a problem walking on the Junction main road.”

“The driving, the careless driving,” she continued, “I don’t’ think they have any regard for the people who are walking. You have to watch out for them because they are not watching out for you.”

Dill’s other issue is the longstanding dust nuisance, which she says has been made worse by the construction.

“Terrible, terrible, the dust, particularly for me who have lupus, and they drive fast.”

However, for other residents in the same area, mud flowing from the ­hillsides, ­continuous excavation, as well as the suspension of vehicular traffic to facilitate blasting are down sides of the road improvement project.

A mother was forced to attend the postnatal clinic in Castleton, instead of Annotto Bay, in order to avert the stress associated with public transportation. The situation usually resulted in her walking back home in the broiling sun, baby and bag in hand, along the muddy roadway.

“Not now, I don’t have a problem with it now because the road stop block, and that was my problem. Because any time me have to go to Annotto Bay for clinic or anything else, is a must me have to walk from Georgia come here and me have to have extra juice and water,” she shared.

“Anytime the rain fall, whole heap a mud when the hillside come down. So is not the road, but the landslide which come down, so you get the whole heap a mud in the road.”

However, for a young woman who has been travelling from Annotto Bay to work in the area over the past two weeks, it is the muddy roadway that is most frightening, and journeying by car provides no comfort.

“You shoulda see my shoes the other day how it muddy. You inna the vehicle, mud a ketch you inna the vehicle,” she said. “Not through the window,” she said, “but it so high pon the road it come through the door crease.”

Both women pointed to the fact that a tractor is stationed in the area, and as soon as there is a landslide, the operator is quick to clear the road.

Everyone agreed that the road will, upon completion, be a major benefit to Broadgate, but expressed the hope that more progress updates would be forthcoming from the contractors, as well as member of parliament for South East St Mary, Dr Norman Dunn.

Raquel, however, explained that she might be at fault for missing out on any communication on the project, given that she had been busy with personal issues.

“Them come here and them keep on having a lot of meetings, them and the MP over the community centre, but I have to be up and down,” she told The Gleaner.