Fri | May 14, 2021

Change the bypass focus, make Long Hill the priority – Kerr-Jarrett

Published:Tuesday | January 19, 2021 | 12:12 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

WHILE COGNISANT of the urgent need for the construction of the proposed 15-kilometre perimeter development road, also referred to as the Montego Bay Bypass, businessman Mark Kerr-Jarrett believes in the creation of a Long Hill bypass road based on its vulnerability to flooding and accidents.

Last week, motorists traversing the Long Hill area were exposed to serious danger as floodwaters swept the area, causing damage valued at millions of dollars to homes, business places, motor vehicles, and the roadway. The major flooding impacted several communities including Wiltshire, Lethe crossing, King Gate, and Belmont.

The proposed Long Hill bypass road will run from Temple Gallery in the Bogie area and continue through the hills via Wales Pond, ending at Montpelier in the southern part of the parish.

“It is slated to be built as part of the Montego Bay perimeter road, but what we need to do is to meet with the National Road Operating and Construction Company (NROCC) and organised with them the prioritisation, because that road could well be more important or become of a higher priority than the perimeter road itself,” said Kerr-Jarrett.

According to the businessman, remedial works should be done with funding from existing sources, including the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), to ease the commuting plight. According to him, no amount of repair work will see Long Hill being restored to any suitable conditions with the existing traffic flow.

“We just cannot continue to have the city... strangled because of this piece of infrastructure. The repairs need to be done right now,” said Kerr-Jarrett. “We are suggesting that the Tourism Enhancement Fund be used to do that development, as it has an effect on that industry.”

USE EXISTING FUNDS

When quizzed as to the TEF’s ability to effectively fund the repair works on the project, given the downturn in the sector brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kerr-Jarrett said the country should seek to redeploy existing funds without creating more debt, such as those of the National Housing Trust.

“What we need to do as a country is not to go into more debt, but redeploy existing funds. The TEF is existing funds, the NHT employee’s contribution is existing funds; let’s redeploy what we have to get the effect and activities we need without going into more debt,” said the businessman.

“The effect of the flood can be reduced, but that road cannot accommodate the current level of traffic. And, from what happened last weekend, it indicates how vulnerable it is … it is very easy for the same type of breakaway that took place in Gordon Town to take place there,” added Kerr-Jarrett.