After bearing witness to numerous fatal accidents and enduring years of broken promises from authorities, residents of Westmoreland, St James will soon be able to breathe easier as they witness the installation of traffic lights at one of the nation’s deadliest junctions.
Over the last three weeks, a team from the Ministry of Transport and Works has been laying the groundwork for motorists and pedestrians to have a much safer passage.
On Friday, the two traffic lights had been fully erected along The Ronald Mapp Highway (2A) and an island was being constructed to direct traffic approaching from Porter’s Main Road. One of the technicians on the job told Barbados TODAY that the censors would be inserted next week followed by road paintings, after which, the country’s lone power company would install the electricity.
In 2017, two residents of Westmoreland joined a number of others who died at the junction and the haunting memories are still fresh in the minds of the neighbours they left behind. Sixty-one-year-old Mary Downes, was struck when two motor lorries collided along the Westmoreland section of the Highway on July 12 and Anderson Joseph, 48 died in another accident on March 5 in the same year.
Amid expressions of concern about the dangerous junction, then Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley visited the area to speak with residents and in August of the same year, promised that improvements would be made to the highway after consultations with technical staff at the MTW.
Almost three years later, in March 2020, pleas were again made for urgent action to be taken during a consultation at the St Thomas Parish Church. A promise of new traffic signals was made.
Patrina Drakes, whose cousin Anderson Joseph was killed there back in 2017, is grateful that work is finally being done.
Even when I was going to school at Coleridge and Parry, it would take sometimes ten to 15 minutes to get out of this junction. It was horrible, and I am grateful that finally, after all of these years of pleading, they are finally doing something about it,” said Drakes, who added that MTW officials had consulted with residents to find out whether they favored traffic lights or a roundabout.
“I am told that there will be a pedestrian button which is extremely important, because children do cross here and when workers are coming to Royal Westmoreland they have to struggle to run across moving traffic. This is a good outcome after all the tragedies we have had to endure,” she added.
Anthony Bovell, a retired teacher who was liming at a popular hangout spot told Barbados TODAY he recalled at least four road fatalities that occurred there over the years, but expressed satisfaction with the most recent developments.
“The junction is big enough to accommodate a roundabout, but as they are putting up the lights, we will settle for the lights. But we need to monitor it, because drivers float through here at high speeds not recognizing that this is a residential district. I am afraid that some people might see the lights on green and will try to speed through,” he added.
Read our ePaper. Fast. Factual. Free.
Sign up and stay up to date with Barbados' FREE latest news.