Friday, April 12, 2024

EDITORIAL: Wheels spinning on Warrens road project


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It is generally accepted that reasonable citizens would expect some inconvenience when a country undertakes a national infrastructural project that is designed to bring about improvements in the long run for everyone.
The ongoing roadworks in the Greater Warrens Development Area, officially referred to as the Warrens Traffic Safety Improvement Project, is one such example. According to those whose job it was to sell the project to the country, it was a $50 million fix of a massive daily headache that just about every motorist who used the area had long come to expect as par for the course.
Since January 2011, teams from C.O. Williams Construction have been excavating, filling, rolling, trenching, paving, digging, filling, trenching and so on in what has begun to appear like a never-ending cycle. According to the Barbados Government Information Service, motorists can expect this kind of roadwork to continue for another year to 18 months.
The question at this stage, however, must be: why is the project taking so long and has there been any noticeable improvement in traffic movement in the three years that have elapsed so far?
We can’t answer the first part of the question, but we can say that so far pedestrians are far better off with the provision of sidewalks. However, we have serious reservations about the effectiveness of the completed roadworks so far for motorists and even greater doubts about whether this project will solve the Warrens traffic snarl in the end.
We know that during morning rush hour, for instance, getting from the area of The Lester Vaughan Secondary School beyond the roundabout beside CIBC FirstCaribbean’s headquarters can take as much as half an hour, while getting from Green Hill beyond the same roundabout in the evening can cost you a good 45 minutes.
Travelling through Warrens along the ABC Highway any morning or evening can be just as time consuming, depending on the time you happen to arrive in the expanding commercial centre, leading us to conclude that the answer is to take vehicles that don’t need to stop in Warrens out of the area altogether – as opposed to building more lanes through Warrens.
In the end though, whether the plan is to allow more traffic through Warrens at a greater pace or to divert it around or over Warrens, this current project is taking way too long.
And we are reluctant to blame the contractors because we are 100 per cent sure they would prefer to get the job done, collect their money and move on to the next job. Tying up valuable equipment in such a small geographical area for three years and counting is not characteristic of the company.
However, failing to acquire land needed for the project and handing it over to the contractor, failure to pay for work when it is done and compensation is due, changing the project design midstream, and even being unsure of certain design aspects long after the project has started, are all characteristic of the client on this project – the Government of Barbados.
The Warrens Traffic Safety Improvement Project does not represent our finest hour.


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