Residents and business operators in the Sunset Crest, Holetown, St James area are crying out for relief from dust and noise pollution, even as they welcome ongoing development in the area.
Since the start of the civil work aspect of the $7.1 million Adaptation Measures to Counteract the Effects of Climate Change (AMCECC) ‘Ridge to Reef’ project just over three weeks ago, traffic has been diverted from a section of the main road into the upscale Sunset Crest community.
The usually heavy Highway 1 traffic has been redirected through the Sunset Crest residential area, a situation which is expected to be in place for at least another month as the project is concentrated in the section between Limegrove and the shopping plaza on the outskirts of Sandy Lane.
The entire ‘Ridge to Reef’ project is scheduled to take several months, with the first phase lasting up to two months, after which it would move further north.
With all vehicles now going through the swanky Sunset Crest community, many of the roads are transformed into a one way, while the dust and noise have increased dramatically for residents.
While all those who spoke with Barbados TODAY concluded that they wanted the project to quickly come to an end with a solution to the flooding issues that have plagued the area for decades, there was mixed reaction about the increased traffic and the noise and dust that it brings.
For General Manager of the popular Zaccios restaurant Vernal Henry, the closure of the road has resulted in that establishment witnessing a drop of about 40 per cent in its revenue base.
He explained that the location was especially popular for lunches, but since the start of the construction the usual foot traffic had declined.
“I would say that in terms of revenue, it has fallen at least 40 per cent,” said Henry, who complained of ineffective communication.
“There is no traffic coming along. It is literally like a ghost town,” he said.
“It has definitely affected us and it is worse for some other establishments. I really feel for those guys,” he added.
Owner of Café Moya, Marguerite Moe said the construction in the area did not result in any fall-off in business for her, but said the diversion of the traffic was causing a lot more noise.
“The only struggle for me is the traffic that comes through. They seem to still think it is a main road. So buses race through and motorcycles come through and rev up and keep a lot of noise. Outside of that it has not been an impact for me in a bad way,” she said.
“I just want it to finish fast . . . For the area, I know it floods really badly . . . We will have to wait and see,” she said.
Meanwhile, Latoya Brown who works at the nearby Beauty Mart said since the start of the construction work there has been a noticeable reduction in business.
She suggested that work be carried out both day and night in order to reduce the length of time it would take.
“You know what I would like, that they work throughout the night and day. It would finish quicker. But working only daytime is slowing up the process,” said Brown, while expressing hope that the project would solve the flooding issues in the area.
Spa Manager at the Body Magic Day Spa, Jalissa Harris believes the project has had a positive impact on that establishment, explaining that traffic that would otherwise pass along the main road is now passing directly in front of her business giving more people the opportunity to learn of its location.
“People are now seeing that there is a salon and spa here. As far as the noise, it can be a little tricky because our clients are accustomed to a quiet and peaceful environment,” said Harris, who is also eager to see the improvements.
The civil work, which is being carried out by construction firm INFRA Inc., will consist of culvert replacements, grass swale improvement and the reconstruction of concrete water channels.
Residents also welcomed the development aimed at flood mitigation.
“We can’t shut our windows because it is too hot and it is very hard for us,” said one resident, who expressed concern about the elderly and children in the area.
Barton Spooner is a landscaper who does work in the affected community. He told Barbados TODAY the increase in traffic has resulted in him making an adjustment to how he trimmed the hedges.
“Other than that you have to give in for progress. For progress to go through you have to give up something,” said Spooner.
Meanwhile, Gail Bennett described the situation as “extremely annoying”.
“Just to get from your home to the gas station or to Massy Stores, which normally takes about two minutes, you have to now make a complete circle in traffic so that should now take you [a much longer time] just to get two items. So it is really annoying, it is not something you look forward to,” she said.
Bennett said she was eager to see the project come to an end and she really hope it would bring relief to the issue of flooding.
“This cannot go on for months, it can’t. It is not just the traffic, it is [also] the noise, it is the dust, it is the road . . . the roads weren’t built for that so now there are a lot of potholes. So it is also damaging the roads and it is damaging the trees and bushes believe it or not, because with the constant traffic you see an effect on the shrubbery,” she added
However, Corinna Manning, who lives in the nearby Carlton community, but does frequent businesses in the Sunset Crest area, said she was not too bothered by a few extra minutes to get from one point to the next as a result of the traffic diversion.
“I think it is important that they fix whatever is going on. It needs to be done. Hopefully it doesn’t take too much longer,” said Manning.