The Mount Pleasant residents turned out in their numbers on Thursday evening to a consultation that was being held by the department within Public Works currently overseeing the road rehabilitation project – the Project Implementation Management Unit (PIMU).
The meeting was largely designed to inform the residents of two critical areas that have been deemed hazardous to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic alike that will require immediate infrastructural redevelopment in the community.
Project manager for the company doing the road rehab work – Bahamas Hot Mix (BHM), Sean Geiser, outlined that the company plans to block the access way that leads from Friars Hill Road onto Old Popeshead Street. In addition to this permanent closure, the company also plans to extend that blockade to encompass the entrance from Old Popeshead Street onto Thibou’s Drive.
“The existing road conditions were observed to be moderately hazardous to both drivers and pedestrians,” said Geiser of the danger the existing conditions at the juncture would continue to cause if left without remedy.
Well, that particular announcement sent the 50-plus residents in attendance into a frenzy as they could not understand the rationale behind the Old Popeshead/Thibou closure.
“I couldn’t event conceive that this is what you were going to do,” said one Mount Pleasant resident.
“It would affect me personally, because I need to get to Thibou’s Drive every single day,” the resident added.
The Mount Pleasant Development Association President, Dion Simmons, also weighed in on the BHM proposal standing in solidarity with the other residents’ views.
“Thibou’s Drive is a part of the Mount Pleasant Community,” he said, “so I would want to think that instead of blocking [the access from Old Popeshead onto Thibou’s Drive] that you just block [the access from Friars Hill Road to the Old Popeshead/Thibou juncture].”
This suggestion, which appeared to the be the consensus of those in attendance, was met with loud applause.
“So my suggestion… is that you leave the accessway into the community via Thibou’s Drive,” Simmons continued.
“I just need to know what we need to do to make it the way we want it to be and not whatever this [proposal] is,” yet another resident chimed in.
The recommendations did not go unanswered, however. The PIMU’s project coordinator, Dennis Cudjoe, reassured the residents saying, “the information you have provided has given us an opportunity to go back to the designers… perhaps we are a little late, but it’s not too late. The consultation with you, the community, is part of the project. So the information that is being gathered here, will be taken into consideration.
The other critical area of concern addressed at Thursday’s consultation was that of the t-junction at the very top of Friars Hill road that intersects with the Cedar Grove Main Road and Flagstaff.
The recommendation by BHM is to construct a roundabout at the junction to allow for a “free flow” of traffic.
Residents again voiced their concerns with the loudest concern being that, “The specific roundabout at Flagstaff just allows people to drive straight through it because of the way it’s directed,” one resident pointed out.
“They don’t have to yield; they can just go straight through. And I live right up there, so I see every morning, and I hear the cars honking,” she added.
On this point, BHM’s project manager held firm on the roundabout’s placement and pending installation.
“There are issues because there is a lack of understanding on how to use a roundabout… but once that [education process] is set and done for, [roundabout] actually propagates free flow.”
The slated roundabout was described as being able to handle rigs towing 40-foot containers and possibly higher.
The head of the police traffic department, Superintendent Elson Quammie, made sure to point out to the residents concerned about the roundabout that, “We have seven roundabouts in Antigua and we don’t have policemen standing everyday and telling you to look right or look left… so it’s basically just ignorance of drivers.”
“When you are on the right of the roundabout, you could go around all day because, hear what, you control the right of way,” Quammie quipped.
Before any of the BHM/PIMU recommendations can be enacted, however, they must first get the assent of the commissioner of police. Then, upon the commissioner’s recommendation, they must be passed and adopted by the legislature and become law before any of the proposed road closures can take place.