What does the new highway from Kingston to Ocho Rios really mean for Jamaica?
I decided to look deeper into the benefits vs negatives of the new highway which will open in early 2016. My findings are very encouraging to say the least. There exists little or no negatives.
Research has shown that;
The highway provides a more balanced transportation network which provides travelers with less stressful alternatives to rural area driving and flying while helping to reduce pollution and congestion.
Highway transportation systems can help reduce crashes.
It is important to note that mobility and access, while often used interchangeably, are not the same. A strong, multi-modal transport network helps overcome distances (greater mobility). It also helps us reach desired social and economic activities (better access).
Transportation investment can improve the appearance of an intersection, a street, or an entire neighbourhood. Transportation investment can increase community cohesion and inspire a sense of togetherness – It can stimulate social interaction, increase civic participation, foster closeness among neighbours, and increase people’s sense of safety.
A new highway can, increase recreational opportunities, improve aesthetics, promote historic preservation, and mitigate pollution. It seeks to provide better access to employment, schools, and other community destinations.
Highways make it easier to visit friends and family and to access a broad range of work, shopping, educational, health care, and recreational opportunities. A resident of Ocho Rios is within an hour’s drive of many of the nation’s leading hospitals and universities, thousands of potential employers, and two million potential friends. Long-distance opportunities are as important as local opportunities. In a weekend, the residents of Kingston can drive to Ocho Rios for foliage, rivers and beaches.
“Until communities and businesses have access to markets and resources, until workers are able to reasonably commute to jobs, and until patients can be within safe reach of doctors and medical care, the people of St. Ann will never have a full seat at the table of Jamaican prosperity. The highways are more than a road in the mountains – they are very much a lifeline.”
Faster service means faster turnaround times, and hence more frequent daily service.
The Highway gives people access to jobs, education, shopping, health care, and family and friends, particularly as development in the suburbs (Hartland Estate, Richmond Estate, Drax Hall Country Club) continues to outpace development in the older urban centers (Portmore).
Low-income Portmore and Kingston residents can reach good-paying jobs that have moved to the north coast. More specifically the significant increase in tourism investment on the north coast of the island.
Generally speaking, infrastructure investments that result in grade separation, the reduction of intersection conflict points, and the elimination of intersections entirely reduce fatalities and injuries; the safest roads are those with limited access.
The good thing about this highway is the use of roundabouts. Moreover, there are fewer conflict points within a roundabout compared to a four-way intersection where left turns across traffic are permitted, also reducing the chances of collision. Because traffic moves through a roundabout with fewer delays, drivers are less likely to become frustrated and aggressive, further reducing the likelihood of an accident. Statistics attest to the safety of roundabouts compared to a four way intersection with stop lights.
Jamaica stands to benefit significantly, both in the short term and the long term. The reasons outlined above have made Jamaica very attractive to investors.
Research by Rory Marsh
Real Estate In Jamaica
Cambridge Systematics, Inc. January 2002
Community and Social Benefits of Transportation Investment