Too treacherous!

St James North residents call for urgent road works

Residents of St James North say they are living in constant fear of their lives, but not on account of the recent spate of murders, including the brazen killing on Monday which marred the annual Crop Over climax.

Their primary concern is the behaviour of motorists on the nearby Ronald Mapp Highway, which they say is at times nothing short of road rage, bordering on a death trap.

So far this year, there have been 16 road deaths, compared to ten for all of last year. The island has also recorded 22 murders, on par with last year’s total number of killings.

During a town hall meeting last night at the Westmoreland Church of Nazarene, the residents who have come together under the banner of the Legacy Village Foundation made a direct appeal to Minister of Transport & Works Michael Lashley to take immediate steps to stop the speeding and erratic driving that have become commonplace along the major roadway.

Michael Lashley

In fact, they sought to impress on Government the urgency of the situation, telling Lashley that the promise of long term fixes to the structural deficiencies on the roadway was simply not enough, given two recent road fatalities within the space of four months on the troublesome stretch of the highway.

One of the victims, 61-year-old Mary Downes,  died on July 12 just outside the very place of worship at which last night’s town hall meeting took place, while 48-year-old Anderson Joseph was killed back in March.

Warning that the situation could not wait and that an urgent fix was necessary, the residents called on Government to look at introducing emergency stoplights and flashing pedestrian crossings, as well as to construct roundabouts in short order along the deadly highway.

Back in October 2015, 36-year-old Dave Hurley was struck and killed along the Ronald Mapp Highway, with the junction between Westmoreland and St Silas proving most treacherous of all for motorists, as residents expressed both fear and frustration over the situation.

In response to their demands for an immediate fix, Lashley, who had previously inspected the area and saw first-hand the problems with manoeuvering the difficult stretch, promised to do whatever was technically feasible to ameliorate the problems.

Also in attendance at last night’s town hall was Member of Parliament for St James North Edmund Hinkson, who described the junction as a “horrendous intrinsic hazard” that was responsible for three deaths within the last year and a half.

“All three [victims] have been pedestrians . . . two attempting to cross the road and the last one Mary having left the bus and trying to get home,” he pointed out while warning the authorities that “you cannot put money on the cost of a life”.

“Therefore we have to devise a way where we can make the road safer for people who want to cross,”  Hinkson insisted, while suggesting that a pedestrian crossing with flashing lights could be a start.

“That don’t need no waiting on traffic lights or roundabouts. We could immediately install pedestrian crossings,” he said, adding, “I don’t believe that will break the Government’s bank right now”.

The meeting also heard over a dozen stories of misery from pedestrians with Monica Callender, cousin of the late Mary Downes, stating that Barbados had narrowly missed a mass casualty at the same junction during a candlelight vigil for her relative.

Monica Callender

Callender reported that despite waving candles and cell phones with lights, the group of mourners came close to being run over by a number of vehicles when they attempted to cross the road.

However, Arthur Broomes was adamant that it was not the road that was at fault, but the motorists.

Arthur Broomes

“This road was constructed for many years before either one of those road fatalities took place, so obviously it could not be the road. The chauffeurs are 80 per cent to blame for any fatality that occurs on this road and the road is responsible for only 20,” he argued.

Another resident Angela Worrell said she was still traumatized by Downes’ death.

Worrell, who is the grandmother of one of the children who were attending a nearby summer school camp on that ill-fated day, complained that it was difficult to cross the highway, particularly at peak traffic periods. And she called for a roundabout to be constructed, similar to the one in Waterford close to Combermere School.

“Perhaps we can try something like this out here. It might be less permanent [but] at least it would give us an ease for the time being . . . . It will slow things down,” she said.

Following Downes’ death the road markings were repainted. However, Worrell reported that motorists continued to ignore the warnings, while suggesting that more needed to be done to get drivers to slow down.

“The quickest solution right now would be the lights. It would give everybody a fair chance – the pedestrians and the traffic persons . . .  because everybody would be controlled to some extent,” said Ann Roach, who argued that roundabouts would take some time, “and by then, God forbid, there would be about five more road deaths”.

Ann Roach

Leroy Smith said residents often found themselves “at the mercy” of drivers.

“The speed limit is 60 kilometres per hour [but] you don’t have to be Einstein to understand that . . .  anytime you’re struck by a vehicle that is doing 60 kilometres you got to engage some serious injury or death, and that is a daily fate that we have to deal with,” he said.

However, Anthony Bovell expressed the view that “this road was badly designed from inception.

“You can’t build something called a highway in a residential area,” he said, adding that “you cannot have people travelling at 120 miles an hour, or 80 [miles per hour] . . .  in a highly residential area”.

While also arguing that the roadway was poorly lit, Bovell said, “I believe I am the most concerned person in this room because … I live below the road and they got a rum shop there,  and I have to cross the road to get back home . . . if I have a beverage”.

11 Responses to Too treacherous!

  1. Saga Boy August 11, 2017 at 12:28 am

    I hope there will be a quick solution to this problem. I hope there will action.

    Reply
  2. Veroniva Boyce
    Veroniva Boyce August 11, 2017 at 5:28 am

    #TrafficCops

    Reply
  3. samantha walker August 11, 2017 at 6:20 am

    The roads, the guns, the drugs everything piling up and we still talking….plod, plod, plod

    Fingers x, perhaps we might see some change in our lifetime 🙂

    Reply
  4. Sheron Inniss August 11, 2017 at 7:27 am

    The cheapest and quickest fix are flashing lights and pedestrian crossings. If you can have 5 bus stops and 7 crossings between Sir Frederick Smith School and Cave Shepherd in Holetown why not the densely populated area of St James North? I count only 7 crossings from Tri-Mart to Arch Hall Fire Station. Wuh loss.

    Reply
  5. Milli Watt August 11, 2017 at 9:24 am

    not the first time this area talk bout this……….expect another 25 years to go by before you have another town hall to TALK. THIS ISLAND IS A JOKE.

    Reply
  6. roger headley August 11, 2017 at 11:11 am

    A perfect example of the time wasting and talk shop syndrome in this country. People getting knocked down when they cross the road because of the speed of motorist. Two factors – people crossing and speed. Why we need a town hall meeting – to waste time? The Ministry want to tell me that with all the technocrats and all the free education that we had, that they don’t know of a solution.

    Reply
  7. Saga Hall August 11, 2017 at 11:24 am

    This is interesting. Some people always blaming gov. What about the lawless motorists who refuse to take their time and drive with due care and attention in that area. There needs to be an awareness campaign aimed at convincing motorists to drive lawfully in that area.

    Reply
  8. Saga Hall August 11, 2017 at 11:24 am

    This is interesting. Some people always blaming gov. What about the lawless motorists who refuse to take their time and drive with due care and attention in that area. There needs to be an awareness campaign aimed at convincing motorists to drive lawfully in that area.

    Reply
  9. Gee August 11, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    speed cameras need to be posted in the high profiles areas. When drivers have to pay money it always curb how you drive. Moving Violations should have a point system and if you get x amount of points in a year suspension of driver’s license beginning at 6 months

    Reply
  10. roger headley August 11, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    Saga boy whose responsibility is it to put an awareness campaign in place?

    Reply
  11. Donild Trimp August 11, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    “You can’t build something called a highway in a residential area,” he said, adding that “you cannot have people traveling at 120 miles an hour, or 80 [miles per hour] . . . in a highly residential area”.

    I do not know the area but if the above is correct (a highway through a residential area) something must be done to prevent people from crossing directly on the highway.

    Maybe overhead pedestrian crossings could be the solution.

    Reply

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