The widening of the Linford Pierson Highway into George Town faces significant delays due to various legal issues and will not be completed before the next general election in May, Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts confirmed last week.
“There are houses that are being taken down, people are going to be displaced. You have to do that in a sensitive fashion.”
Meanwhile, the widening of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway from two lanes to four was expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2017, Mr. Tibbetts said.
“I’m not sure we’ll get [the Linford Pierson Highway] finished all the way down,” Mr. Tibbetts told a group of Progressives supporters at a meeting in George Town last week. “[It’s] a bit more taxing [than the Esterley Tibbetts project] …. There are houses that are being taken down, people are going to be displaced. You have to do that in a sensitive fashion.”
According to Mr. Tibbetts, the government identified three homes along the northern side of the Linford Pierson Highway that need to be demolished for the road’s expansion from two to four lanes. One of the homes has been torn down. The other two homeowners will be relocated by the government.
“They’re desirous of remaining in the same neighborhood,” Mr. Tibbetts said, adding that government will assist in the relocation.
The government is facing a dispute with a landowner on the westernmost end of the road widening project, near the intersection with Bobby Thompson Way.
Minister Tibbetts said at a Progressives political meeting last week that the landowner in this case disputed the amount of land the government proposed to take from their property to build the new road. A court injunction in the case had not been lifted as of last week, the minister said.
The widening of the two roads into central George Town is a key facet of the Progressives-led administration’s effort to revitalize the George Town area. The projects aim to relieve traffic congestion into the central business district from West Bay and the eastern districts.
Minister Tibbetts said last month that it will cost US$5 million to expand a section of the Esterley Tibbetts from two to four lanes.
The expansion between the Camana Bay property and a new roundabout to be built just north of the Lakeside apartment complex is being done by the Dart group of companies. The remaining section of the road, between the new roundabout and the A. L. Thompson roundabout in central George Town, will be built by Dart in conjunction with the National Roads Authority.
The US$5 million applies only to the section between the new roundabout and the A.L Thompson’s roundabout. [*]
Mr. Tibbetts said that the Dart group’s cost for expanding its section of the highway is “lower than the NRA’s in-house estimate.” He also said the roads authority’s current staffing levels would not allow it to work on both sections at once, unless it is allowed to hire a number of new employees.
The road widening is part of a much larger project – costing some $40 million – that involves the realignment of a section of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, widening it at the same time.
The new road will pass under an elevated ramp that will allow pedestrians to safely cross above the four-lane road to and from the Camana Bay property. The Camana Bay Town Centre would also expand to the other side of the highway, according to plans released last year.
[*] Editor’s note: Reflects that the US$5 million is being paid for the southern end of the Esterley Tibbetts expansion.