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Mandeville looks to solve congestion woes

Published:Saturday | June 11, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Pedestrians and motor vehicles compete for the public thoroughfare in the town of Mandeville. - Photos by Christopher Serju
Brenda Ramsay, mayor of Mandeville.

Keisha Hill, Gleaner Writer

MANDEVILLE, Manchester:MAYOR OF Mandeville Brenda Ramsay is optimistic that the Mandeville town centre can return to being a pedestrian town, as it was many years ago. If the mayor has her way, traffic and parking in and around the Cecil Charlton Park and in the vicinity of the Mandeville Court House will become non-existent.

In recent times, the population of Mandeville has outgrown its original capacity when it was laid out in 1816. In the past, the town had seen an influx of persons driven by the then thriving bauxite industry and more recently it has seen a substantial number of Jamaican residents returning from abroad.

"The town centre as you see is very congested. When Mandeville was Mandeville, it was a pedestrian town. It was only a few people that had motor vehicles. Now, we do not have any place for expansion. So we have to look at how best we can utilise what we have," Ramsay told The Gleaner.

In 2005, the town had an estimated population of 50,000, and including the immediate suburbs within a radius of 16 kilometres the total population was about 72,000. That was six years ago and, according to the mayor, this number has been dramatically increased.

"So it really is a chaotic situation. We are in dialogue and we have monthly meetings with the traffic committee, which is under the National Works Agency. We hear a lot but we don't not see a lot. We are still expecting that something will be done because shortly there will be more development in Mandeville," said an exasperated Ramsay.

New housing units

Shortly, according to the mayor, there will be some 600-plus housing units that will be put in by the National Housing Trust on a section of Perth Road in the parish capital that, she noted, did not have the capacity to accommodate large vehicles along with other vehicles.

"We held up the plans because of the density of those (housing development) plans, and the (resultant) traffic ... that roadway could not accommodate (it)," Ramsay pointed out.

In the interim, the Manchester Parish Council is tackling the congestion problem with the relocation of many of the taxi parks that for some time have been a major problem for commuters, businesses and the shape and order of the town. They have also implemented permit parking in a number of areas to ease the traffic congestion.

"If we did not have the permit parking in place, we would have 10 times the chaotic situations on our streets. The taxis used to just park all over the place. People who wanted to go about doing their business were unable to. Although persons are not wanting to pay because they feel that parking should be free; it's one way of regularising things," Ramsay stated.

According to the mayor, the parking fees have been kept to a minimum with those persons wishing to park being charged $60 per half-hour. "It is not unreasonable. We have kept it at that level for a few years. We do not see it as an income for the parish council; it is more to regulate the traffic," she said.

In addition, Mayor Ramsay said that as far back as 2006, they have been trying to get some of the roadways signalised.

Said Ramsay: "On a number of occasions, we have been told we need no traffic lights in Manchester, specifically Mandeville. We have Caledonia Road, we have Perth Road and we have Manchester Road. These roads when you get into the town in the mornings, the traffic to the schools is just something else. We are not talking about adding to that with the other sectors."

Ramsay said with the necessary funding and partnerships, the parish council can realise its objectives of significantly reducing the traffic congestion in the town.