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Opposition to proposed changes to Grand Harbour Roundabout

Local News 24 May, 2023 Follow News

Oppposition Leader Hon. Roy McTaggart and Sir Alden McLaughlin

Minister Jay Ebanks

The meeting at the Seafarer’s hall was well attended

Edward Howard, NRA’ Managing Director, explaining the proposed changes

The Hon Roy McTaggart, Leader of The Opposition & MP for George Town East, and Sir Alden McLaughlin, MP for Red Bay, hosted a public meeting regarding the National Roads Authority’s proposed closure of the right exit onto the Grand Harbour roundabout to traffic wanting to proceed to South Sound and Crewe Road.

The meeting, which was held on Thursday, May 18 th , at 7:30 pm at the Seafarers Hall in Red Bay was very well attended, with residents from the Red Bay, Prospect and George Town keen to voice their concerns, which became apparent as the evening progressed.

The changes, which are due to take effect from 5th June, will mean that drivers exiting Grand Harbour at the roundabout will no longer be able to turn right onto South Sound or Crewe Road. Instead, drivers will have to travel east along Shamrock Road and circle the next roundabout, then head west and back towards Hurley’s where they can either pull off to South Sound or cross the roundabout onto Crewe Road.

Edward Howard, Managing Director of the NRA, explained the proposed road changes, and outlined the reasons for it. At first, the audience listened patiently, but grew louder and louder as his presentation progressed, sometimes meeting his remarks with loud jeers or uproarious laughter. Mr. Howard explained that the proposals for shutting that route through the roundabout had been made because of serious concerns over safety, owing to the high number of serious near-misses and accidents that had occurred on the roundabout, especially in relation to the route in question.

“As an urgent safety concern, the NRA has decided that it would be in the best interest of the public to close off the westbound right turn from Grand Harbour around the Century 21 Roundabout. Once the Edgewater Connector is complete the NRA will revisit this decision,”Mr.. Howard stated.

the decision was an NRA Board decision and “hadn’t been taken lightly,” Mr. Howard explained. “Grand Harbour roundabout has been a reason for contention over the years, and the reason for that is, first and foremost, because of its location.” The roundabout takes all the traffic from the Eastern Districts, Mr. Howard said, which amounts to between 16,000 and 20,000 cars every day.

When Mr. Howard told the audience that, according to NRA’s calculations, the proposed changes would result in a seven-to-eight minute delay during the morning rush, the audience laughed uproariously. When the floor was open to questions, many of the people said that they felt the proposed changes would make the traffic situation worse, not better, and would lead to a bottleneck at the next roundabout. Some residents called for speedbumps for the roundabout, to slow down traffic, as an alternative measure

Mr. Howard explained that the difficulties arising from widening the roads in the vicinity so that traffic could move more smoothly were largely exacerbated by delays caused by land claim settlements, which often stretched on for many years.

Hon Jay Ebanks, Minister for Infrastructure, indicated that he believed the decision might be premature, because another key road situated behind Grand Harbour, the Edgewater Way, hand not been completed yet. He also said he would be looking into all concerns before meeting with the NRA to discuss the decision. He said that there would be another meeting soon.

Concluding the meeting, Sir Alden outlined some of the problems, which included greater numbers of vehicles on the road as the population grew.  “We can’t build the roads fast enough unill we have enough land,” he said, echoing Mr. Howard’s concerns over delays over land acquisition. But he said that the proposal was “Arbitrary,” and had been made without proper, “regard it is going to have on the people who live between Grand Harbour and Here (the Seafarer’s Hall in Prospect). “i want to know what is the imperative for doing this now. There are other ways that can assist the situation.  We need to slow the traffic down ...it makes no sense .and makes more stress on the people who live in this area to close that roundabout . Given the level of frustration that people have ......what is being proposed is simply not viable,” he said

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