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Widened Washington Boulevard Officially Opened

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The recently completed multi-billion dollar second leg of the Washington Boulevard improvement project, in St. Andrew, was officially opened on Wednesday, October 12.

Jointly funded by the Government of Jamaica and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), at a cost of some $1.7 billion, the 21-month project included improvement works along approximately 2.75 km of roadway, which was undertaken by Surrey Paving and Aggregate Company Limited.

The project area spanned the Washington Boulevard/Dunrobin Avenue corridor, between the intersections at Molynes Road and Constant Spring Road.

Transport and Works Minister, Hon. Michael Henry, who addressed the opening,   said  the work  entailed: widening of the roadway from two to six lanes, inclusive of dedicated bus lanes; installation of additional traffic signals and pedestrian facilities; improved drainage network, inclusive of some 100 manholes, which  are expected to significantly  reduce  the incidence of flooding; enhanced sidewalks; installation of nearly 70 energy saving LED lights; and construction of, and improvements to nine structures, including three bridges.

Additionally, the Minister informed that 150 mm diameter pipelines have been installed, as well as a two-foot water main, “to facilitate any future upgrading along the corridor by the National Water Commission (NWC).”

Mr. Henry said the initial project cost was some $1.2 billion, but pointed to several factors contributing to this figure increasing. These, he disclosed, included: delays experienced in the relocation of NWC, LIME and Jamaica Public Service Company facilities; fluctuations in the cost of construction materials, consequent on the global recession; and cost associated with acquiring the LED lights, which “will redound to the benefit of the country, over time, through lower electricity rates.”

“The commuting time (consequent on the project’s completion) has been significantly enhanced by this major opening up of the access to and exit from the capital city,” the Minister said.

He urged motorists to exercise caution when travelling along Washington Boulevard and Dunrobin Avenue, imploring them to: “take your time, make good use of the newly improved corridor, and be sure to be with us for Christmas and beyond.”

Chief Executive Officer of the National Works Agency (NWA), Patrick Wong, informed that plans for the project were designed as far back as 2002, but only finalised by the agency’s Technical Services Department in 2009. He pointed out that while infrastructural work commenced in January 2010, the project was actually implemented in June 2007, and attributed the delay to several factors.

“We had to get some critical preliminaries out of the way. These included: purchasing of 37 parcels of land along Dunrobin Avenue and the relocation of JPS and LIME utilities, and those of the NWC,” he noted.

With the improvement works completed, Mr. Wong is anticipating improved safety along Washington Boulevard.  He implored motorists and other users to exercise caution, stressing that, “it’s not a race track and this is not Highway 2000.”

“The speed limit is 50 kilometres per hour. However, if needs be, we might have to put in some more traffic lights, if we notice an upsurge in speeding,” he added.  The project was implemented by the NWA.

In his remarks, Operations Officer at the Caribbean Development Bank, Daniel Best, said the project’s completion would redound to the nation’s benefit through reductions in travel time, vehicle operating costs, vehicular accidents and the resulting human and economic losses.

“The CDB is pleased to be associated with this project, as it provides a sound platform for the realisation of inclusive social development and broad-based economic growth, one of CDB’s primary strategic objectives,” Mr. Best said. The bank provided loan funding totalling US$14.7 million.

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