There is something to be said for the arguments by Mayor of St Ann’s Bay Michael Belnavis that the North Coast Highway is not really much of a highway anymore.
But I can’t buy his argument that’s because of the fact that most of the roadway consists of one lane in either direction, that contributes to the illegal manoeuvres and the breaking of the law carried out almost every day on the so called highway.
To be sure, the roadway needs an upgrade and in several places a little road widening without much cost would make useful stretches of it into three lanes, allowing overtaking and better flow of traffic. For most sections of the highway there is a continuous white line, meaning no overtaking is allowed. In those areas, when motorists get stuck behind vehicles going at 50 or 60 kilometres per hour (KPH) where 80 KPH is the speed limit, there is the temptation to break the Road Traffic Act, by overtaking nonetheless. The lack of police patrols makes it easier for the driver who lacks discipline to disobey the law.
But Mr Belnavis must know or should be aware that some of the greatest difficulties occur because of the failure of his own Council and the National Works Agency. The police should not escape some of the blame.
As a report on jamaicatoday.com points out Priory as one of the worst areas now experiencing chronic congestion. It is one of the few places along the highway, between Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, where parking is allowed, and on both sides of the road too! Every afternoon, there is an unnecessary long line of traffic, sometimes stretching back two kilometres, to the main exit from St Ann’s Bay and going west to Priory at the traffic light. The traffic is clear from the lights on after the constricted space is passed at Priory. In the mornings, traffic going east face a similar problem but because parking is not so rampant the line is not as long.
Police have on a few occasions, through media pressure, tried to regulate traffic at the Priory lights but that’s not the problem. It is the double parking along the highway. Mr Belnavis may start there if his intent is to have the North Coast Highway used like structures with that name.
By: Alexander White