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MP: Diego highway project overdue
Better late than never for delivering the Diego Martin Highway expansion, says Diego Martin Central MP Dr Amery Browne. Speaking to the T&T Guardian in a telephone interview on Tuesday, Browne said he fully supported the highway expansion project. He said it was well-designed under the previous administration and was intended to alleviate a severe traffic burden on the residents of the western peninsula.
He added: “We were pleased that under this current government's Works Minister Emmanuel George this project has finally resumed. Because it's better late than never. “I am appealing, however, to the minister to ensure the community is properly informed as to the implications of the project because there are many questions that are now coming from residents who are seeing the additional work being done and would like better information as to the perimeters of these additional phases.
“Phase one of the project was initiated prior to the 2010 general election. Specific commitments were then made in Parliament, under questioning, by the then Minister of Works Jack Warner, that the project would have been swiftly wrapped up and completed and of course that did not happen. It was another promise broken.”
Diego Martin North East MP and former Works Minister Colm Imbert claimed Warner had said construction of the highway would start in February 2012 and be completed by June 2012. Another issue, Browne said, was that for two-and-a-half years no work had been done to the non-functioning $1.2 million Powder Magazine walkover elevators, since they were installed in August 2010.
The commissioning ceremony was attended by Cocorite residents, several disabled people and senior citizens and opened by Warner, works and infrastructure minister at the time, and Minister of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh.
Browne said the opening day was the only day the elevators worked and he had made numerous appeals for the equipment to be fixed but to no avail. He said the open shaft, beehive infestation, overgrown moss, and poor lighting posed a hazard to the safety of users of the walkover, including children.
He said it was even used to hang political banners instead of repairing and ensuring the elevators were in proper condition for senior citizens and the disabled and he hoped they would be attended to in short order. Browne described the elevator project as “just empty public relations” from the Government.
What the project involves
Director of the Highways Division at the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure Roger Ganesh said the National Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (Nidco), on behalf of the ministry, would undertake expansion to the Diego Martin Highway between the Western Main Road and near Acton Court.
He said: “What we're trying to establish is a highway continuously from the Western Main Road to the Diego Martin Highway, where it starts. Victoria Gardens, the Starlite area and Acton Court are in the way of the expansion of the highway. “The expansion is designed to alleviate traffic congestion at the entrance to the Diego Martin area by the construction of two extra lanes going northwards.”
Ganesh said Four Roads was a congested area with the mall and taxi drop-offs blocking a lane and the ministry intended to expand the roadway there so that there would be a free flow of traffic and a layby for taxis near the Starlite Shopping Plaza. When the highway is completed there will be a continuous four-lane highway with two lanes of traffic going north and two lanes going south.
The highway will also be extended northwards from the Wendy Fitzwilliam Boulevard to the Diego Martin Main Road. He said upgrades to the overpass at Powder Magazine Phase Two, Cocorite, would move drivers across to the Western Main Road more safely out of Diego Martin and Carenage. Theextension is projected to be completed this year and the overpass in early 2015.
Phase 1: Completed over a year ago: Widening the highway, beginning near the walkover at Powder Magazine.
Phase 2: Primarily the construction of an additional south-bound lane from Morne Coco Road to the Western Main Road, a new retaining wall along the boundary with Four Roads School and new drains and realigning a segment of the existing south-bound lanes.
Phase 3: Constructing two new lanes running northwards alongside the existing south-bound lanes between Acton Court and Victoria Gardens, making it a dual highway.
Phase 4: Widening the north-bound segment from Victoria Gardens to Acton Court.
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