By Leonard Gildarie
A planned extension of the East Bank Demerara four-lane highway from Providence to Diamond may include the sound-proofing of the Providence Magistrate’s Court during construction, designers of the project have said.
The four-lane project is expected to see some filling of trenches, relocation of utility lines and the building of another entrance to the New Diamond Housing Scheme.
Additionally, the contractor will have to submit a traffic management plan and even provide detailed ideas on where raw materials and equipment will be stored during the construction phase.
Construction is expected to begin within the first quarter of next year with Government and the financier, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), already signing the US$22M agreement. Guyana is contributing US$2M to the project.
On Thursday, Government, the IDB and the road consultants, Mott McDonald from the UK, hosted a forum with stakeholders on the project to discuss the project which will see traffic being diverted.
However, Guyana will have to wait until the road designs are in before it is known how long the project will take to complete.
As part of the project, four new bridges to link Grove to the New Diamond and Grove Housing Scheme in the back areas will be constructed to ease the congestion.
In the Herstelling areas, while there is insufficient room to construct a new carriageway east of the existing drain, in the Prospect-Diamond area, the contractor may very well have to take a piece of the land east of the trench there to construct the new roads.
Mott McDonald, according to report on stakeholders’ feedback, has recommended a two-lane bypass through Herstelling and Grove during construction in the areas.
During construction in some area, like Farm, Prospect and Little Diamond, the consultants have recommended that the new roadway be built first so as not to interrupt the flow of traffic on the current East Bank Demerara public road in these areas.
The contractor will also be mandated to ensure two lanes of traffic are open at all time to ensure there is a continuous flow.
Several detour routes through Herstelling and Grove will also be identified and upgraded, the report says.
Regarding the issue of some residents and businesses being affected by the parking situation during construction, the designers have not ruled out acquisition of land for this purpose.
During meetings with the public to hear grievances, residents and others had also raised the issue of delays especially to commuters and schoolchildren. This was a major sore point during the construction of Ruimveldt to Providence four-lane which saw commuters experiencing a nightmarish time on the roads with heavy congestion a norm.
While admitting that there will be “journey time delays”, the report assured that these will be temporary in nature and will improve in the long run.
Several power posts and even telephone cables may have to be rerouted but according the stakeholders’ report, these costs are contained in the project.
Studies have estimated that traffic volumes at Providence are expected to increase to 35,000 in 2018 and 52,000 per day by 2028.
In Grove, two-way daily traffic flows are projected to increase to 19,094 near the junction and just over 18,000 at the southern end of Grove by 2015.
Regarding vendors in the Diamond area, the Ministry of Public Works is examining the possibility of building an amenity area close to the proposed second entrance, just south of the Demerara Distillers Limited compound.
This will also include a bus stop, car park and vendors’ arcade.
Congestion on the East Bank of Demerara has been blamed mainly on slow moving trucks from the gold mining, logging and sandpits areas; bad parking in densely populated areas like Grove and the New Diamond Housing Schemes which now have combined total of over 35,000 residents.
In especially the Diamond area, the taxis serving there have been blamed on contributing to backups in the traffic.
It has been estimated that almost 700 heavy duty trucks pass the Grove/Diamond areas in the 24-hour period— the equivalent of two trucks a minute.
Government had originally intended to extend the four-lane highway, which stops at Providence, to Grove, a heavily populated village, but the narrowness of the current public road there has caused the authorities to rethink.
On Thursday, the Government of Guyana, Ministry of Public Works and Communications and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) held a stakeholders’ workshop at Duke Lodge in Kingston, to discuss the project and its possible implications on businesses, road users and others that would be affected by the construction.
UK-based engineering consultants, Mott McDonald, have until February to submit the project designs which will see some 16 bridges and culverts widened and another access road to the New Diamond Housing Scheme.
Studies have shown that the bulk of the East Bank Demerara traffic ends in the Grove/Diamond area with a bottleneck around the traffic lights at the intersection there.
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