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River project fears

I would like to believe that the necessary Environmental Impact Studies have preceded the Constitution River Beautification Project. There has to be more to the project than simply making the area more “aesthetically appealing”. The improvements must make a bad situation better and not make an ugly situation worse.

A case in point is the new and reconditioned levees around New Orleans that during Hurricane Isaac only last week saved the city from flooding but resulted in placing surrounding districts underwater that were otherwise unaffected by the devastating Hurricane Katrina.

The Constitution River is at the end of a key watercourse that empties into the sea which has its origin up in the hills of St. Thomas. To interfere with this natural emptying into Carlisle Bay for the sake of aerating the canal with seawater all the way up to Queen’s Park could be a recipe for disaster.

An EIS should have taken into account the possibility of severe flooding in areas around River Road during periods of heavy rainfall as a result of the aesthetic improvements. It would also compensate for daily tidal variations as well as high tides and storm surges from tropical storms and hurricanes. The engineering for the retaining walls around the canal would therefore be elevated to prevent overflow onto adjacent streets and properties, and strong enough to avoid breaches of the infrastructure.

On the more positive side, the beautification to the Constitution River is indeed welcomed, after being an eyesore and an irritant to the nostrils for too many years. It may be the safest place in Bridgetown as it will present a challenge for the criminal element to escape by having to swim across the canal. Social and economic activities could now extend further up Bridgetown, creating a win-win situation for everyone.

— Carl Harper

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