Safety in mind
Despite criticisms, Minister of Transport and Works John Boyce says the newly opened footbridge at the Pine, St. Michael will make travel for pedestrians from one side of the highway to the next, that much safer.
Boyce, speaking shortly ahead of the actual ribbon-cutting to open the more than $2million bridge this morning, recalled that the Road Network Infrastructure Improvement Programme in 2006 had come up with strategies to solve some of the congestion and other issues on the ABC Highway, including the widening to four lanes.
Furthermore, in 2008, when Government had decided only phase one of the project would be completed, they recognised at the time that the footbridge to ease pedestrian travel had to be completed.
In response to the concerns raised by residents at various town hall meetings, a survey was conducted in neighbouring communities to find out the residents’ preference.
“Following this consensus, physical construction of this footbridge commenced on May 2, 2012 and was executed over a nine-month period at a cost at approximately $2.4 million,” said the minister.
He maintained that a major motivation for the project was “the safety and protection of life” given its location between a business community on one side of the highway and a housing district on the other, along with other educational institutions in the vicinity. Boyce noted however that there had been some criticism of the construction with some people stating their intention not to use the new facility.
“In the final analysis, it is the users of the road who are ultimately responsible for ensuring the roads are safe. Indeed we have had a lot of discussion in the media and the call-in programmes by people who would seek to introduce negativity to a project which is simply meant to make a statement on road safety for Barbadians and provide access…
“I do not believe anyone in the Ministry of Transport and Works, the Government of Barbados, the Royal Barbados Police Force, can force a road user or pedestrian to use the footbridge, but I would advise in the best sense, and in the best expression of safety, that Barbadians who have to traverse this highway, use this footbridge which we have gone to this extent to provide,” he advised.
In commending the contractors for completing the work in a timely manner and the skills of those who worked on it, Boyce noted that the project was testimony to the skills present in Barbados for these kinds of projects.
“I am happy to report that this project, the final component of the Road Network Infrastructure Improvement Programme, has been successfully completed,” he said, before students of the nearby Parkinson Memorial Secondary cut the ribbons at each side of the bridge to open the walkways and he and former MP for the area Hamilton Lashley unveiled the plaque to declare the bridge officially opened. (LB)