“People are just miserable on the roads now, something has to be done,” said Bodden Town resident Twyla Vargas when over100 residents of the district met with road officials and MLAs to discuss problems with the early-morning traffic back up at the Bodden Town Civic Centre. “My worry is that when I drive out of my gate in the morning to come to George Town, I will never get into town, because there are cars backed up from my gate at Daffodil Street all the way to George Town. It’s serious,” she said.
Belford Estates resident Yvonne Chambers shared the same concerns: “It takes a long time to reach your destination. I have a little minivan and I find I get stuck in the traffic. But nothing can be done because there is only one way out and one way in, and we do not have enough areas to divert the traffic.” Lots of resident have ideas of what should or could or might be done, to make the situation better. Arthur McTaggart said: “I would like to see things that are outside of the box, not the norm; not building more roads. I want to see beyond that, like alternative transportation – better for cyclists, motorcyclists, public transportation. We need better types of busses, or consider, potentially light rail, raised monorail,”
There are Around 400 new cars coming onto the Island every month according to one of the presenters, MLA for Prospect, Austin Harris. He was one of the five panelists including Planning and Infrastructure Minister Hon. Joseph Hew, Elected Representative for Bodden Town East Hon. Dwayne Seymour, NRA Director Edward Howard and Police Inspector Fernando Soto who gave presentations during the evening.
Mr. Harris has been part of an official government committee who have been looking into traffic problems, and making recommendations, such as controlling the number of new cars coming in by classifying those who import more than two cars a year as either “resellers” in which case they will need a trade & business license, or “collectors.” Other recommendations included preventing people who are on short term work permits from importing cars, and urging private schools to use more busses.
A Bodden Town resident himself, Seymour, knows about the problem firsthand. “We saw ease-ups, we were all happy, and then within a year the problem came back,” he said. The message I sent to the government was ‘my people need at least one more hour of sleep; and that includes me.’” Mr. Seymour said he had been listening to, and relaying to government messages sent to him by residents, and said was very thankful for them, and encouraged residents to continue contributing to the pool of good ideas. “The Government agrees with you that something had to be done. Not only about widening existing roads and finding connector roads, but coming up with a whole plan, to deal with the root causes of this problem,” he said.
Mr. Hew outlined a series of extensive plans for adding lanes and new roads, including creating a third lane going west from Red Bay Roundabout into Shamrock road, and a third lane inside the roundabout. “Next month we will be signalizing some of the roundabouts at Grand Harbour and Red Bay, and the Tomlinson Roundabout, similar to what we have done at South Sound,” Mr. Hew announced. He also said that around Christmas time the second phase of the widening of the Linford Pierson Highway, from Agnes Way to Bobby Thompson Way would begin.
The East–West Arterial Road would be extended all the way to Bodden Town at first, and eventually way through to East End, and would be widened into two lanes in the Western section, and eventually into six. Minister Hew also announced that work on the new Hurricane Shelter at Bodden Town would begin in the New Year. “So this time next year we should have the completed hurricane shelter at Pastor Rose’s church,” he said.