Sat | May 28, 2022

NWA paying high price for a little comfort

Problematic section may extend completion date, again

Published:Monday | January 17, 2022 | 12:06 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer
An excavator digs up a section of the Junction main road in St Mary as roadworks continue.
An excavator digs up a section of the Junction main road in St Mary as roadworks continue.
A motor vehicle traverses a section of the Broadgate to Agualta Vale roadway in St Mary that is still under construction.
A motor vehicle traverses a section of the Broadgate to Agualta Vale roadway in St Mary that is still under construction.
A section of the roadway between Broadgate and Devon Pen along the Junction main road, St Mary, being paved with asphalt.
A section of the roadway between Broadgate and Devon Pen along the Junction main road, St Mary, being paved with asphalt.
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Two years past the original completion date of January 2019, the revised completion date for the Broadgate to Agualta Vale roadworks on the St Mary to St Andrew corridor is in danger of being missed again, despite 96 per cent of the work done. A mere 4.8 metres is left to be completed.

The revelation emerged from a recent meeting of the Infrastructure and Development Committee of Parliament, after committee member Mikhail Phillips pressed Chief Executive Officer of the National Works Agency E. G. Hunter about a problematic section of the roadway.

“The Broadgate section, is there more stabilisation work to be done on that section?” the committee member asked.

In responding, Hunter did not give a definitive answer.

“There is a little section, a little overcrop, that we have looked at. The analysis that we have done in terms of the stability of that section, the numbers look good. But, again, from a management point of view, we sort of say to ourselves, ‘So the numbers look good, but what if ... ,’ because as I said before, ‘spoil mechanics’ is not a perfect science. So not withstanding how good the numbers look, what do we perceive to be the level of risk?

“And there is a little section that we are a little uncomfortable about, and so we want to go back and do some additional work, just a little bit, for safety reason and there is a kind of keep-your-fingers-crossed reason. There is no analytical doctrine that says we must do this, but we think that the money that we will pay will buy us some comfort and some peace of mind, and we want to be able to do that, and we will do that in short order.”

Phillips kept probing: “Are you saying that if we had a day or two of rain that the stability of that hillside should hold?”

“Yes, it should,” answered Hunter. “And it has. And the thing about that corridor is that since we’ve done the works, there have not been any issues, notwithstanding the rains. But again, you can’t be too safe, so we buy a little safety there.”

The original price of the contract, which was awarded to Surrey Paving and Aggregate Company to start work on November 6, 2017, was $597,765,238.18, but that figure has since ballooned to $1,117,759,590.89, of which $989,764,658.44 has already been paid over to the contractor, with a balance of $127,994,932.45.