Two families will move into newly built homes in George Town in the next few weeks, clearing the way for the expansion of the Linford Pierson Highway to continue.
Their original homes, situated in the path of the planned road, will be demolished, as soon as the new houses are cleared for occupancy.
Project manager Mark Scotland said the government could have taken the land through compulsory acquisition under the Roads Law. But he said the families involved had not wanted to leave the area and government was able to acquire a piece of adjacent land and rebuild their homes just yards away.
He said, “They are basically getting exactly the same home, same size, same number of rooms. It’s a newer building obviously, but it is really just a replacement for what they have lost.”
He said it was a good deal for the families because they would be getting newer buildings in return for the loss of their homes.
“It was quite reasonable on the part of the government. They don’t like to take down houses that people are living in, so this was a good compromise with those home owners.”
He said the buildings were almost complete and the families would move in within the next few weeks once certificates of occupancy were issued. At that point the two old houses will be knocked down and phase one of the road expansion completed, up to Agnes Way.
Sherman Myles, one of the homeowners, said his family had lived in the duplex on the edge of the highway for more than 20 years.
“We didn’t want to move out of that area of George Town. Fortunately government was able to purchase some land close by and replace everything,” said Mr. Myles. “It could have been a lot worse for us. They could have just said, ‘here’s a check, off you go,’ so we are quite happy with the deal.”
Mr. Myles shares the duplex, adjoining four and three bed homes, with his wife and four children, his brother and mother.
“We are glad we can stay in the area and that they didn’t uproot us and send us to East End or Bodden Town or somewhere.”
Mr. Myles, a paramedic, said he is frequently caught in traffic returning from a night shift in North Side and was happy something was being done to ease congestion for commuters.
Arlene Lopez, the owner of the other duplex that will be replaced said she had been informed the homes would have to be knocked down in 2015. She said the deal to rebuild the homes on land close by made sense and she was happy enough with the arrangement.
Mr. Scotland said it had cost $1 million to acquire the land and build the new homes. A further $4 million was spent on land acquisitions along the route so far, according to a statement in the Legislative Assembly by former Infrastructure Minister Kurt Tibbetts in March this year.
The total estimated construction cost of phase one of the highway expansion is $6.6 million. Out of this, $3.8 million has been spent and $2.8 million is estimated to complete the project.
The second phase, which would see the entire road expanded to four lanes, has yet to be budgeted and approved.