JOHNS HALL, St James – If everything goes according to plan, motorists using the pothole-riddled Friendship to Hurlock road here could enjoy an improved surface by Christmas.
Member of Parliament (MP) for St James East Central Edmund Bartlett announced Thursday that a $169-million contract will be signed at the Office of the Prime Minister on Monday for rehabilitation of the corridor.
Bartlett, who is also the minister of tourism, said the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) has allocated $100 million towards funding the project.
“After much effort we have found the budget for $169 million to repair from Friendship to Hurlock so that, that entire area will be done. The contract will be signed at the Office of the Prime Minister Monday morning at 9:30 and the construction work is expected to begin almost immediately thereafter,” Bartlett announced.
He added: “Honestly, I want to apologise to the community because it’s been long [in coming]. So I just want you to know that your MP did his job. And for those who beat me up and call me all kind of names, I forgive you because I understand. I understand how it go because there is nobody else to quarrel with but your MP.”
In September 2021 scores of public transportation operators who service the route between Montego Bay and John’s Hall in St James withdrew their service in protest over the deplorable state of the road.
The irate transport operators said that they had to dig deep into their pockets frequently to repair front-end damage to their vehicles as a result of the pothole-riddled road that they claim has been allowed to deteriorate without any attention for a number of years.
The drivers, who also fumed over a dust nuisance affecting them on the road, claimed the deplorable state of the road has been exacerbated since the construction of the nearby Estuary housing development.
At that time, community relations officer for the National Works Agency’s western office Janel Ricketts noted that in 2019 the agency commenced, through a phased approach, the rehabilitation of the 6.1 km stretch of road between the Fairfield Bridge and the Hurlock Bridge in St James. To date, approximately $200 million has been spent to upgrade just under four kilometres of the road. This was completed under the first and second phases of the programme.
These projects involved extensive drainage improvement and significant repairs to the road surface.
Ricketts stated then the third phase of the project will see the upgrade of the Friendship to Hurlock road.
She noted that the road, which serves several communities, including Tucker, Irwin, and the new Estuary development in Friendship, is heavily traversed.
Bartlett, who was speaking at the Universal Service Fund Community Wi-Fi launch in John’s Hall Thursday afternoon, explained that plans to improve the Hurlock to Point roadway is still in the pipeline.
“The rest of the roadway from Hurlock to Point is also on schedule to be done because the original plan was from Fairfield to Point and they stopped partway, as you know, and they pick up now from Friendship to Hurlock and then further on from Hurlock to Point,” Bartlett stated.
“So just bear with us a little bit. Part of what also caused the difficulty was that the rains continue and everytime you fix a part, the rain comes and damage it. But just to let you know we are always having our people at the forefront of our consideration.”