25 Oct 2016
After many years of hosting a daily volume of thousands of vehicles, and being referred to as a ‘national parking lot’, the Mandela Highway is finally being rehabilitated. The project which got underway at the end of August is scheduled to last for two years. Mandela Highway is a very important road in the nation’s road infrastructure. It is estimated, based on statistics collected in 2015, to carry upwards of one and a half times more traffic than any other roadway in Jamaica. This is because it is the arterial link between Kingston and the northern, western and southern sections of the island. Many of us who have to use Mandela Highway can attest to the fact that this roadway is usually congested and many delays are experienced by persons who have to use it. This contributes to a loss of production and results in tardiness for many Jamaicans. Mandela Highway was last improved over fifteen years ago when a section of the roadway in the Plantation area was rehabilitated to address flooding issues. The highway, despite this effort, is still susceptible to flooding so as part of the project we will be looking to create solutions to this issue. The rehabilitation and widening of Mandela Highway will see the corridor being widened from four lanes to six lanes between Six Miles and the Highway 2000 (East to West toll road) ramps. Sections of the roadway will be raised to reduce the risk of flooding. Currently, a new bridge is being constructed at Fresh River. This new bridge will have an increased flow capacity to allow for the passage of more flood waters and debris during storm events; the box culvert at the Duhaney River will be upgraded. In addition, a service road will be constructed, parallel to the main roadway, along the north side from the Ferry Police Station to the Six Miles JPS Transformer Station. The groundwork for this service road is already underway. This service road will have two 3.5m lanes and sidewalks and will be accessed from several locations along the Mandela Highway. The rehabilitation of this very important roadway is expected to reduce traffic congestion, which will in turn reduce travel times and queue lengths. This will, in turn, increase productivity for many who will spend less time on their commute and more time contributing to the development of the country. Motorists should, also, see a reduction in fuel consumption. With the drainage improvements that will happen under the project, flooding will be controlled, so there will be improved driver and more efficient and reliable travel times on rainy days. The project was implemented under the Major Infrastructure Development Programme (MIDP) and will see US$64 million dollars being spent. The design life for the roadway is estimated to be twenty years. That means that it is designed to last, but most importantly, it is designed with the interest of Jamaica and the Jamaican people in mind. We intend to use materials sourced from within Jamaica, as far as is possible, to do this work. That means that Jamaican suppliers and labourers will benefit, in more way than one, from the rehabilitation of this highway, as well as the motoring public who will ultimately benefit from a more efficient and reliable roadway for many years to come.