St James rolls out plans for back-to-school traffic

MONTEGO BAY, St James — The St James Municipal Corporation, along with other stakeholders, is now putting the final touches on plans to address traffic congestion that typically comes with the start of a new school year. For many, classes begin in a matter of days.

“For back-to-school, we are going to do some patching in some of the bad areas along the Sign Irwin main road because that is an important road,” deputy mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Richard Vernon told the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday.

He said work should begin within the next few days.

“It serves the communities of Porto Bello, Irwindale, Chelsea Irwin, Irwin Heights, Orange, Somerton, even persons coming from Trelawny. So we have to ensure that road is in acceptable condition at least for back-to-school, until we complete the perimeter road and carry out proper rehabilitation of the roadway there,” Vernon added.

He said they have identified areas that will get varying levels of attention as they work to address the challenges.

“We’re going to carry out an operation in the Corinaldi Avenue area, we have to make sure that space is free for next week and ongoing,” said the deputy mayor.

One of the major challenges in that section of the western city is facilitating orderly parking in what is a busy commercial space.

“People operating sidewalk garages and [there are] persons with their legitimate garages but they spill over onto the street. We’re just asking them to manage the situation,” Vernon appealed.

“We appreciate the business in the space and we note that it is good for the development of the area and the provision of employment, but we really want them to operate in a more organised way so that we can facilitate not just your business but other matters including access to schools…access for emergency vehicles, access for garbage collection and those things,” he explained.

The city centre will also come in for a fair share of attention. Vernon is optimistic that law enforcement is up to the challenges there.

“The police have made a commitment to have the Sam Sharpe Square area sorted out,” he divulged.

“The police are a critical part of this and so they have to ensure where we have the congestion within the different spaces, there is proper traffic management within those areas. We have the commitment of the police for a very good management of the situation leading to the back-to-school period,” he stated.

The plans being put in place also address the issue of faulty traffic lights. Vernon told the Observer that he was looking forward to lights installed at four intersections along the Felicity, Salt Spring and Norwood corridor would be up and running in time for the new school year.

“We’re hoping that NWA [National Works Agency] will have the traffic lights ready for the period because it is important to have them functioning properly so that we have the best of traffic management possible within the space,” he said.

On Tuesday afternoon, the NWA issued a media release to say the lights are set to become operational at 10:00 am on Friday, September 1.

The signals are at the Middle Road and Felicity Road intersection, Felicity and Sun Valley road intersection, Felicity and Salt Spring Road intersection and the Salt Spring Road and Vernon’s Drive intersection.

These crossings regulate the flow of traffic on roads on the outskirts of the city centre. They form part of an unofficial bypass for the city, from Ironshore to Westgate Boulevard.