Work on breakaway at Chovey set for completion in two months

WORK is to be completed on the breakaway at Chovey — part of the Junction main road rehabilitation project — in another two months, head of the National Works Agency (NWA) EG Hunter advised Parliament’s Infrastructure and Physical Development Committee on Thursday.

He also stressed that undertaking an overhaul of the entire Junction corridor into Stony Hill would be a mammoth, disruptive, geotechnical task, and that the agency would therefore continue to focus on maintaining the corridor.

Hunter said although the Chovey slope stabilisation project — which became necessary following a breakaway during the Agualta Vale to Broadgate portion of the Junction projec — had gone beyond its six-month scope, there was no additional cost to the country. “There is no increase in the cost. The extension of time we have granted to the contractor is without charge, and we are working with the contractor as best as we can to complete the work. What remains is nothing difficult,” he said.

Following the award of the contract for the rehabilitation of the 4.8-kilometre stretch from Agualta Vale to Broadgate a deep slope failure occurred in September 2020 on the Chovey road which led to the award of a separate civil works contract of $321.3 million to Surrey Paving, in December 2020, to carry out stabilisation works and a permanent engineering solution.

Section one of the Junction main road project started in November 2017, for an initial sum of $597.7 million and revised to over $1.1 billion. The Tom’s River to Agualta Vale section, which terminates at Broadgate, was completed as of March 31, 2022.

Hunter said there may be some question as to the need for the number of corridors which will become available from Kingston to the north coast, from that end of the island. He pointed out that when the Junction main road project was originally conceived, Agualta Vale to Tom’s River was the only route from Kingston to the North Coast, but since then the North South Highway has come on stream and the South Coast highway is now being constructed from Harbour View to Port Antonio.

“So it raises the question in a country like ours with competing demand for scarce resources: Do you really need excellent corridors from Kingston to Port Antonio? I am just outlining a scenario that is worthy of consideration because if you look at the traffic load you say to yourself: ‘Is this the biggest bang for the buck,’ ” he said.

The chief executive officer indicated that an overhaul of the entire Junction main road to Stony Hill would be a mammoth undertaking, requiring significant geotechnical work and resources as the corridor was originally a paved track, and not a designed road.

“From a technical point of view we would not want to go into that corridor and not do the requisite engineering to construct a carriageway that meets current standards. To do that is going to be tremendously difficult. Junction has 7000 corners, and that doesn’t inure to a safe corridor. For you to make the Junction work safe in terms of modern standards is going to require significant earth works, and significant property acquisition. What we will continue to do [is] routine maintenance of the corridor, but as it now stands we are not committed to any periodic maintenance which would be any major reconstruction,” he said.

He said the idea of eliminating some of the corners was not practical due to the soil type along the entire stretch: “The excavation of the hillside that would be required would be significant, and the care on the environment that would result from that would be with us for a hundred years before vegetation gets back,” he said, pointing out that one of the key factors in the deterioration of the surface along the corridor is drainage, which he said, again, requires significant excavation and disruption that may not be worthwhile.

The Junction main road runs from Stony Hill, St Andrew, to Agualta Vale in St Mary.