Categorized | Local, News

A1 roads project encounters more problems and delays

Construction on the A1 road project have been put on hold yet again, as the Public Works Department (PWD) struggles to rectify the situation to get work back on course.

This setback is one of many that have plagued the project since its commencement in 2010 and have been the subject of criticism and frustration from motorists, local businesses and PWD staffs.

The Honourable Minister of Communication and Works, Charles Kirnon, in an attempt to ease public tension, explained the reasons for the delay. The Minister said the asphalt plant has proven to be temperamental and that breakdowns cannot easily be rectified because they require replacement components to be sourced from the UK.

The department had seem set to speed up the works at the start when they installed traffic lights, erected to facilitate the flow of orderly traffic, drawing visits from the public to witness traffic lights in use for the first time in Montserrat.

There were the complaints, “they do not know what they are doing.”

The reaction from officials was that they do know what they are doing and everything was going to plan. However, there was also the explanation that the run into the ghaut from the overwhelming number rocks, did force some readjustments in plans.

Following the seeming completion of the Cassava ghaut bridge reconstruction and the beginning of the reconstruction at the Nantes river, to the chagrin of the sand miners and truck drivers, a new argument developed as they were forced to slow their operations of travel on the road further.

At one point we reported, “when it was already observed there were delays, “The long-suffering the A1 road project from Salem to St. John’s is continuing slowly but surely, but satisfies the suspicions of public observers, that the project is heading to run out of money.”

We later discovered that additional funds were obtained increasing the project to over EC$24 million to cover the extent of improvements to reconstruct Cassava Ghaut, Runaway ghaut and the Nantes River bridge. These had suffered severe damage in August 2010 by hurricane Earl, after the $15 million had been long approved for the road project.

In a ZJB report after Minister Kirnon spoke to ZJB News about the new delays, we  confirmed his disclosure that a shortage of cement on island has further delayed the completion of head walls on Runaway Ghaut. He said while working in wet conditions, recently the PWD encountered problems with the on bound road base material supplied from the local quarry company.

The Minister said despite close corporation between the operator and the PWD, there were still experiencing problems with the quarry products which resulted in localize sections of the newly lead material to be removed and replaced. He said a decision was taken by the ministry not to lay any further material until its appropriateness of use as road base and asphalt aggregate could be determined. It was decided that an independent lab, owned by an asphalt specialist in Guadeloupe will vigorously test the quarry products.

He further added that the only alternative to this material should it prove not to be acceptable will be to import aggregate from neighboring islands.

In the meantime, the report said, that PWD has shifted its resources to undertake works aimed at improving the most vulnerable areas along the Barzey’s roads and also enhancing access to Silver Hills.

It was only in February this year the Ministry of Finance sought and received approval in the Legislative Assembly to fund and spend $2,800,000.00 towards “Ghaut Replacement Projects” in a Supplementary Appropriation bill for the A1 road project with regard to the extent of construction in time and material to reconstruct Cassava Ghaut bridge crossing, Runaway Ghaut and the Nantes River bridge.

A part of the project paper read: “The increase in scope of works is in two parts leading to two sets of results: Underground Cable Ducting where the newly rehabilitated road will include provision for cables to be relocated underground along the A1 route, and crossing the road where required.  And the Pedestrian Walkway(s) extension, proposed between Brades Junctions and Government Head Quarters to provide safer transit for pedestrians moving between the two centres.

The road works eventually consisted of three main stages which include reconstruction and resurfacing from Salem to St. John’s, installation of utilities, ducts, and later, placing three river crossings that were severely damaged in August 2010 by hurricane Earl.

Underground Cable Ducting for the newly rehabilitated road included provision for cables to be relocated underground along the A01 route, and crossing the road where required; as well as the Pedestrian Walkway(s) extension, proposed between Brades Junctions and Government headquarters to provide safer transit for pedestrians moving between the two centres.

In late news it was observed on Friday afternoon, patching with asphalt was taking place on the route from Salem through Woodlands. An official described that this was a means also of testing the repaired asphalt equipment.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Construction on the A1 road project have been put on hold yet again, as the Public Works Department (PWD) struggles to rectify the situation to get work back on course.

This setback is one of many that have plagued the project since its commencement in 2010 and have been the subject of criticism and frustration from motorists, local businesses and PWD staffs.

The Honourable Minister of Communication and Works, Charles Kirnon, in an attempt to ease public tension, explained the reasons for the delay. The Minister said the asphalt plant has proven to be temperamental and that breakdowns cannot easily be rectified because they require replacement components to be sourced from the UK.

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The department had seem set to speed up the works at the start when they installed traffic lights, erected to facilitate the flow of orderly traffic, drawing visits from the public to witness traffic lights in use for the first time in Montserrat.

There were the complaints, “they do not know what they are doing.”

The reaction from officials was that they do know what they are doing and everything was going to plan. However, there was also the explanation that the run into the ghaut from the overwhelming number rocks, did force some readjustments in plans.

Following the seeming completion of the Cassava ghaut bridge reconstruction and the beginning of the reconstruction at the Nantes river, to the chagrin of the sand miners and truck drivers, a new argument developed as they were forced to slow their operations of travel on the road further.

At one point we reported, “when it was already observed there were delays, “The long-suffering the A1 road project from Salem to St. John’s is continuing slowly but surely, but satisfies the suspicions of public observers, that the project is heading to run out of money.”

We later discovered that additional funds were obtained increasing the project to over EC$24 million to cover the extent of improvements to reconstruct Cassava Ghaut, Runaway ghaut and the Nantes River bridge. These had suffered severe damage in August 2010 by hurricane Earl, after the $15 million had been long approved for the road project.

In a ZJB report after Minister Kirnon spoke to ZJB News about the new delays, we  confirmed his disclosure that a shortage of cement on island has further delayed the completion of head walls on Runaway Ghaut. He said while working in wet conditions, recently the PWD encountered problems with the on bound road base material supplied from the local quarry company.

The Minister said despite close corporation between the operator and the PWD, there were still experiencing problems with the quarry products which resulted in localize sections of the newly lead material to be removed and replaced. He said a decision was taken by the ministry not to lay any further material until its appropriateness of use as road base and asphalt aggregate could be determined. It was decided that an independent lab, owned by an asphalt specialist in Guadeloupe will vigorously test the quarry products.

He further added that the only alternative to this material should it prove not to be acceptable will be to import aggregate from neighboring islands.

In the meantime, the report said, that PWD has shifted its resources to undertake works aimed at improving the most vulnerable areas along the Barzey’s roads and also enhancing access to Silver Hills.

It was only in February this year the Ministry of Finance sought and received approval in the Legislative Assembly to fund and spend $2,800,000.00 towards “Ghaut Replacement Projects” in a Supplementary Appropriation bill for the A1 road project with regard to the extent of construction in time and material to reconstruct Cassava Ghaut bridge crossing, Runaway Ghaut and the Nantes River bridge.

A part of the project paper read: “The increase in scope of works is in two parts leading to two sets of results: Underground Cable Ducting where the newly rehabilitated road will include provision for cables to be relocated underground along the A1 route, and crossing the road where required.  And the Pedestrian Walkway(s) extension, proposed between Brades Junctions and Government Head Quarters to provide safer transit for pedestrians moving between the two centres.

The road works eventually consisted of three main stages which include reconstruction and resurfacing from Salem to St. John’s, installation of utilities, ducts, and later, placing three river crossings that were severely damaged in August 2010 by hurricane Earl.

Underground Cable Ducting for the newly rehabilitated road included provision for cables to be relocated underground along the A01 route, and crossing the road where required; as well as the Pedestrian Walkway(s) extension, proposed between Brades Junctions and Government headquarters to provide safer transit for pedestrians moving between the two centres.

In late news it was observed on Friday afternoon, patching with asphalt was taking place on the route from Salem through Woodlands. An official described that this was a means also of testing the repaired asphalt equipment.