Problems await pedestrians

The northward Esterley Tibbetts Highway extension will pose difficulty for pedestrians and bicyclists living in Snug Harbour and Palm Heights who want to cross the four-lane highway to get to West Bay Road.

Kathleen Alexis of CMEC stands where Palm Heights Drive intersects the Esterley Tibbetts Highway.

Kathleen Alexis of CMEC stands where Palm Heights Drive intersects the Esterley Tibbetts Highway. Although pedestrians and vehicles like the motorcycle pictured here can now cross the new road on Palm Heights Drive, they will not be able to do so after the road opens.
Photo: Alan Markoff

The new road, which is scheduled to open by the beginning of August, will sever the traditional footpaths out of the two adjoining subdivisions. Many of the residents, particularly in Palm Heights, reportedly walk or ride their bicycles to work.

Kenny Ziemniak owns apartments in Palm Heights and said a lot of his tenants walk to work and the new highway will make that walk more difficult.

‘It’s definitely going to be dangerous,’ he said.

Snug Harbour resident Billy Reid also notices residents of that subdivision walking to work.

‘I see people walking past my home and going to West Bay Road every morning,’ he said.

Rod McDowall, the Operations Manger of Red Sail Sports which has operations on the Hyatt Regency Beach, said some of his employees walk from the subdivision.

‘There’s a lot of pedestrian traffic, particularly down Palm Heights,’ he said. ‘I think it’s about 90 per cent expatriate workers living there.’

Palm Heights resident Doris Dettling said the new road could affect landlords in the subdivision if their tenants do not have a safe way to cross the road.

‘It’s going to inconvenience their tenants,’ she said.

Asked what measures the National Road Authority would implement for pedestrian traffic, managing director Colford Scott replied, ‘I have no information about that’ and referred the matter to Arden McLean, the Minister of Infrastructure.

Mr. McLean seemed surprised to learn there were many people who walk from the two subdivisions, but said the Government would come up with a way for pedestrians to traverse the road.

‘We will have to look at it and decide where we can get them across the road,’ he said.

In the long term, Mr. McLean said there was a plan to have a pedestrian overpass built at the Hyatt Regency, which is still closed after being damaged by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.

Mr. McLean confirmed that there will be enough room between the new road and the Palm Heights canal for pedestrians to get to the Hyatt property.

However, the planned overpass at that Hyatt is not expected to be built until the hotel reopens, which is certainly more than a year away at the very least. Who will bear the cost of that pedestrian overpass had not yet been decided, Mr. McLean said.

In the meantime, an NRA spokesperson said formal pedestrian road crossings would be established at the Hyatt, at Snug Harbour and at Canal point. Signs alerting motorists of pedestrians will also be erected.

Ms Dettling understands the need for the new road, but she does not agree with the way it cuts off the Palm Heights and Snug Harbour residents, who will have limited ways of entering and exiting the two subdivisions.

The NRA’s Mr. Scott said that all traffic from the two subdivisions will be funnelled through one road in Snug Harbour. When leaving the subdivisions, residents will have to turn south (left) unto the Esterley Tibbetts Highway. Those that really wanted to go north will have to travel south to the Hyatt roundabout and either loop around it to head back north, or exit to West Bay Road and then head north.

After considering several different plans, the NRA has decided to create a northbound right-hand turn lane on the highway, so that vehicles can enter Snug Harbour Drive from either direction.

Ms Dettling thinks there’s a better way.

‘Why not have a traffic light?’ she said, noting that pedestrians would then have a safe way to cross the road as well. ‘That would work for everybody.’