Mixed views among Mandeville businesses amid expected traffic changes

MANDEVILLE, Manchester — President of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce Simone Spence-Johnson says there are mixed views among business people over the traffic changes expected to be implemented within the next six months under the Greater Mandeville Traffic Management System here.

Spence-Johnson told the Jamaica Observer that while everyone agrees that Mandeville’s traffic congestion needs to be eased, there are some business people who are worried that they will lose business because of the planned changes.

“It is a mixed review coming from the business community now. I think they are waiting to see how it really is going to work and where the [changes] will be…We all can agree that the traffic in Mandeville, we need some easing of [it]. We all can agree that we have a [congestion] issue…” Spence-Johnson told the Observer last week.

“There needs to be change, [and it] is inevitable. With the change, maybe when they have implemented it we as the business community would say, ‘This is not working [as] a large sector of the businesses are being alienated,’ or ‘This is working because guess what? We cut down the commute time from 15 minutes to five minutes,’ ” she expressed.

Last month, major projects manager at the National Works Agency Orville Reynolds said the $80-million project, which incorporates roads and intersections being widened and signalised, is to commence soon.

Among the roads and intersections to be signalised under the Greater Mandeville Traffic Management System are North Race Course Road to Main Street, North Race Course Road to Caledonia Road, Villa Road to Main Street, South Race Course Road, Caledonia Road, Park Crescent, Manchester Road, Perth Road, and Greenvale Road.

The chamber president said there is some opposition among members of the business community but she is awaiting the completion of the project to see its benefits.

“They [authorities] have proposed these changes and they have gotten to the point where they are about to implement them. Until they have implemented them, we can’t really come into it. We can say how we feel now — some people are going to oppose [it]; I have people who are opposed saying they [authorities] have tried it before and it is not going to work,” she shared.

“Others persons are proposing that we need some overhead roads and stuff like that, which we know is not in the near future, if that is to even happen,” she added.

She said the likelihood of the project being completed in time for the opening of the US$188-million May Pen to Williamsfield leg of Highway 2000 will be a game changer for Mandeville.

“We are all waiting for the highway and the traffic changes, so if they coincide to finish at the same time then it will be a lot of welcomed changes for us to adapt to. The highway is very advantageous to our parish right now with all that can come with it, the traffic changes, as they would ease the congestion in the town and let people move in and out quicker,” she said.

“We are anxiously waiting to see. We welcome both of them. And if they are finished at the same time and they get implemented at the same time then we will know that this is a step in the right direction, because it would be helping the parish to grow,” she opined.

Work on the US$188-million May Pen to Williamsfield leg of Highway 2000 is far-advanced, with all major bridges on the roadway complete and the project advancing uphill in Manchester to meet the March 2023 deadline.

The project — which will reduce travel time between Kingston, Mandeville and points west — was originally scheduled for completion in October 2022.

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