Sun | Oct 1, 2023

NWA, HMC at odds over Woodsville Bridge

Published:Thursday | April 28, 2022 | 12:05 AMBryan Miller/Gleaner Writer


RESIDENTS OF Woodsville and the adjoining Flower Hill districts in Eastern Hanover are at a loss as to who will be tending to their despair of a compromised bridge along the roadway in Woodsville. Both the National Works Agency (NWA) and the Hanover Municipal Corporation (HMC) are pointing fingers at each other, as to whose responsibility it is to repair the damaged bridge.

The bridge, which is located along the Woodsville road heading towards Flower Hill, was ordered closed by the NWA on Thursday, April 21, as the abutment to the bridge has been compromised following recent heavy rains in the area.

A NWA press release sent out that day quoted Janel Ricketts, NWA’s community relations officer in the western region, saying that “Residents of Woodsville, who wish to access the community of Flower Hill and its environs, may use the alternate route via Pondside and Cascade. Similarly, commuters travelling from the direction of Flower Hill or Cascade, towards Woodsville, should travel via the Pondside community.”

The NWA personnel had placed caution tape at both ends of the bridge, advising that neither pedestrians nor motorists should use the bridge.

Residents of Woodsville have since expressed concern to The Gleaner, as they say that during subsequent visits to the area by NWA personnel, they heard comments that the bridge is the responsibility of the HMC and as such the NWA will not be doing any repairs.

When The Gleaner contacted Ricketts about the matter, she confirmed that the NWA does not intend to take on the repairs of the bridge, as checks made by that agency have revealed that the bridge is the responsibility of the HMC.

“It is a parish council bridge, it is on the parish council roadway. Our roadway is the main road that one would have to turn either left or right on, depending on which direction you are coming from, to go into the community of Woodsville, so it is not a NWA bridge,” Ricketts stated.

Ricketts also pointed out that the bridge in question is not on the NWA’s programme, adding that the responsible agency is aware of the damage to the bridge, and that she is sure that steps will be taken towards its repair.

Councillor for the Hopewell division, Devon Brown, the division in which the Woodsville area is located, has a different argument.

“I am under the purview that all bridges and major roads are the responsibility of the NWA,” Brown stated.

According to Brown, the damaged bridge connects the HMC road to the NWA road.

“So our road would stop then the bridge, and then you have the main road, so how come they are going to give us responsibility for the bridge?” Brown questioned.

He argued that the HMC does not have the technical expertise or finances to repair the bridge, adding that if funds are allocated to repair the bridge, it is the NWA that would have to do the repairs.

Further, Brown told The Gleaner that he will be would have met with Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the HMC David Gardner on Tuesday, to discuss the way forward.

Meanwhile, People’s National Party divisional caretaker for the Hopewell division, Jeffrey Brown, has expressed disgust at the pointing of fingers between the agencies, while people’s lives are endangered.

“The people have to go to work, a lot of them work in the tourist industry in Lucea and Negril, and they have to reach work by a certain time, and there are children who have to go to school, so they have removed the caution tape that the NWA has placed across the roadway, and they drive, ride and walk across the bridge,” Jeffrey Brown stated.

He argued that the alternate route as outlined by the NWA is too long and in a deplorable condition, so the residents have not been given much of a choice. The to-and-fro arguments between the NWA and the HMC, he said, will only serve in extending the time it will take to carry out the necessary repairs to the affected bridge.