Saturday, April 20, 2024

Long-time concerns about Coverley junction design

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The Ministry of Transport and Works’ top two technical officers had both made it known to Government officials that they had nothing to do with the construction of the junction at the entrance of The Villages project at Coverley, Christ Church.

And both also believed the controversial junction had serious design defects.

The Sunday Sun understands that almost three years ago, the MTW’s Chief Technical Officer Cheryl Bennett-Inniss wrote the ministry’s permanent secretary to clear the air about the design and other issues with the junction.

In addition, former Chief Technical Officer Frank Thornhill wrote the Town and Country Planning Department more than six years ago pointing out what he considered were deficiencies in the junction at the entrance to The Villages, along the ABC Highway.

Bennett-Inniss, in her capacity as deputy chief technical officer with responsibility for design services, wrote a letter in July 2015, after The Villages developer Mark Maloney had claimed the design was done by the MTW and the developers had simply put the junction in place.

“Maloney’s comments are not accurate, and further they cast aspersions on the professional integrity of the technical staff of this ministry,” a concerned Bennett-Inniss had written.

Bennett-Inniss also took umbrage with comments reportedly made by Maloney purporting there were similar junctions designed by the MTW.

“This is another erroneous statement, as the dimensions of the acceleration and deceleration lanes at Coverley are quite different (in fact they are deficient) when compared to the ABC Highway Belle Road junction, the only other location in Barbados where this situation of deceleration and acceleration lanes occur,” Bennett-Inniss wrote.

When contacted about her letter yesterday, Bennett-Inniss told this newspaper she had nothing else to say on the matter.

Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley said he had no information, and referred it to Permanent Secretary Simone Rudder.

Efforts to reach Rudder proved unsuccessful, as were attempts to get a comment from Acting Chief Town Planner George Browne.

The junction became a national talking point in 2015 after a vehicular accident at the site resulted in the death of 11-year-old Abijah Holder-Phillips.

Two weeks ago, the boy’s mother Felisha Holder was charged with death by dangerous driving, and last week, Opposition Leader Mia Mottley also expressed concerns about any road design that may have played a part in the deadly smash-up.

Thornhill, in a letter written to Chief Town Planner Mark Cummins in 2012, made it clear the MTW saw the junction at The Village as problematic.

“Please note where it is clearly stated that the entrance is not well designed, and it utilises the hard shoulder which, as designed, creates a challenge for motorists,” Thornhill had said.

“The design as it stands, not only encroaches on the road shoulder, but also the road reserve, as well as the land which is needed for any future expansion of the highway which, given the rate of increase in traffic volumes, would soon be necessary,” Thornhill had suggested. (BA)

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