Scores of people will receive employment opportunities when the Government’s multi-million rehabilitation of Highway 1 project starts in the near future.
Minister of Transport and Works and Water Resources, Ian Gooding-Edghill said Phase 1 of the project, scheduled to start in the coming weeks and completed by December, will cover 6 500 metres between the Frank Walcott Roundabout to Seaview Road, St James.
He said the works in this phase includes relaying a new 12-inch water main on the western side of the road; relaying a new 6-inch water main, national petroleum gas main, flow cable and a Barbados Light and Power duct scheme on the eastern side of the road; replacement of six culverts with six larger ones and improvements of the drainage systems.
The Minister said there will also be the replacement of six culverts with larger ones and improvements of the drainage systems; improved sidewalks making good existing footpaths; manhole covers will be leveled with the road; in addition to the milling and paving of the highway.
“The Ministry is acutely aware that Highway 1 is one of the most heavily trafficked roads on the island and serves residents, businesses, churches and prime tourism plants on the platinum coast of Barbados. It has been over 30 years since any major rehabilitative work was done on this stretch of the highway. The project will cost $15, 281, 656.00 for the first phase, ending at Seaview Road. The source of funding will be the consolidated fund,” he said.
“The decision to lay new water transmission mains on the eastern and western side of the road is to replace the 100 plus year old mains along the highway which continue to present problems due to the constant bursting of mains which results in the loss of millions of gallons of water over the years and inconvenience to people, the build-up of calcium in the mains and to prevent the disruption and destabilization of the road by having to cut across the highway to install new pipes,” he said.
Speaking at a press conference following a tour of the area, Minister Gooding-Edghill said in order to complete the rehabilitation; works within the prescribed timeframe, the Ministry will be engaging five contractors who have previously carried out trenching operations for utility companies. He announced that Ajax Construction, Arthur Construction, C.O. Williams Construction, Infra Incorporated; and Jose y Jose, are the proposed contractors.
He explained that the Ministry is exploring the new drilling technology, horizontal direct drilling to put an end to the practice of utility companies drilling above and across the road, with the intent to utilize the technology to drill under the road surface.
Gooding-Edghill said the underground ducts would allow the utility companies to commence the connection of underground utility lines for residential and commercial customers rather than the current practice of having these lines above ground. He indicated that the transition will be done over time, and considering Barbados is in a hurricane belt, provision of underground utilities would reduce the risk of injury whilst maintaining the infrastructure.
“The Ministry will be conducting a virtual townhall meeting to consult with the residents, businesses of every size and description including retail, hotels, restaurants, churches, and all other stakeholders. The date of the town hall meeting will be announced next week.
“My Ministry will communicate the traffic management plan at the virtual townhall meeting. Be assured that local access for residents, businesses, public transport and Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) vehicles will be maintained.
“In addition to open routes for public transport, the Ministry will also be maintaining one lane of traffic flowing in one direction south bound to Bridgetown. The traffic management plan is intended to have four diversion routes. Priority will be given to road users, especially at night through the provision of warning lights and reflective signage,” he said.
Gooding-Edghill further explained that the communication plan will include new initiative in the form of community liaison and relations officers hired from within the affected communities to assist with timely communication of information to residents and businesses will be undertaken,” he said.
Gooding-Edghill said there will be a project coordinator to ensure the project is completed within the specified timeframe. The MTWW depot will improve existing signage and where these are presently absent, install new ones.
The Minister said due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a lull in tourism activity on the coast and it was agreed, notwithstanding there will be some disruption to execute the works and have it ready ahead of the busy tourism winter season and for the future.
He said workmen will be working around the clock to have the project completed on time. The work will start following the completion of the virtual town hall meeting.
“The project is the clearest signal of my Government’s commitment to infrastructural works and putting people back to work,” he said. (AH)