STATEMENT BY MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND WORKS
HONOURABLE KYE M. RYMER AT THE THIRD SITTING OF THE FIRST SESSION OF THE FIFTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS ON MAIN STREET TWO WAY UPGRADE
Thursday 7th September 2023
Madam Speaker, I rise to provide an update on the traffic in the capital of Road Town.
On 15th June 2020, we went live with the historic traffic turnaround plan to mitigate the traffic congestion motorists were repeatedly experiencing particularly at peak hours of the day. Due to the limited roads in Road Town to aid in addressing this issue, a decision to repurpose some of these main roads from a two way lane road to one way lane roads. We first redirected the flow of traffic on Main Street being a eastern only flow to a western only flow from the foot of Joe’s Hill. We converted DeCastro Street being converted to two lanes heading only flow while Waterfront Drive in the vicinity of the Administration Drive intersection was converted to two lanes heading easterly.
By all accounts, the turnaround was a success, and it has been over three years since now implemented. There were some initial growing pains as drivers became accustomed to the turnaround, this was expected as new implementations of any system from what was customary for years will cause initial challenges for assimilation. But it is now obvious that motorists have adapted to the new traffic design and are managing well. Motorist though have indicated that they believe the turnaround has improved the overall traffic flow and congestion in the central area of Road Town, which was the end goal of the entire project.
Madam Speaker, with any new initiative or plan, there will always be opportunities for further improvement. As a result, we have taken a critical look at the traffic flow, particularly around lunchtime and more definitively after 4p.m, and we have noticed substantial congestion on Waterfront Drive as motorists travel in the easterly direction. We must admit that we have an existing constraint as the number of roads available to motorists in comparison to the number of vehicles on our roadways. As a result of the limited roads, there is a natural bottleneck point at the roundabout, particularly for motorists travelling easterly on Waterfront Drive. Further, even if motorists seek to avoid this bottleneck by taking Shore Way Drive, they will meet another bottleneck at the intersection of Flemming Street and Shore Way Drive that is right by RiteWay, which is linked to the overall bottleneck at the roundabout as they are forced to turn right onto Flemming Street.
Madam Speaker, What we want to introduce by the end of the 4th Quarter is an upgrade that we believe will enhance our traffic flow and reduce the congestion as I just described. We will seek to convert only the section of Main Street between the foot of Joe’s Hill by the Road Town Methodist Cemetery to the intersection of Main Street and Flemming Street into two-way traffic. The rest of Main Street, starting at the same intersection of Flemming Street to Customs Road intersection in the vicinity of the Commercial Court building, will remain a one-way heading in the westerly direction.
Madam Speaker, we have recognised that many motorists may want to head up through Joe’s Hill Road or perhaps even to Long Bush or Lower Estate become caught up in the traffic along Waterfront Drive heading towards Purcell Estate and beyond. We want to alleviate that daily frustration. Our plan is to create an outlet whereby motorists can now take the Shore Way Drive road, a left onto Flemming Street, and a right onto Main Street, and proceed up Joe’s Hill Road or anywhere else.
Madam Speaker, this new outlet being created, by a conservative estimate, we believe that the traffic congestion will be reduced by at least 35%. I have experienced the congestion and can recognise the immediate benefits that this upgrade to our traffic flow that it will bring to our motorists.
Madam Speaker, we recognise the constraint of Main Street generally and know that it is not as wide as other roads. As a result, we will additionally prohibit large trucks from traversing Main Street and will require them to utilise other roads available. Madam Speaker, I have requested of the Public Works Department to develop designs for implementation of this upgrade to see how best we can fit in sidewalks along this segment of the road to ensure the safety of pedestrians. Even as we look at the overall turnaround, persons have indicated that the roundabout is not working effectively. Madam Speaker, I do note that there is quite a bit of mishaps that take place at the roundabout. We will do our part to improve the marking on the road and the signs with directions for motorists to follow.
I wish to remind motorists that more attention must be paid to those markings and signs in addition to the increased use of good judgement when traversing this roundabout and any other road. The solid lines are there to indicate that you cannot cross at that area of the road. Many accidents take place where persons are crossing the solid lines and as a result colliding with other drivers. If you are on the inner lane of the roundabout and you are driving by the solid lines, you cannot cross over. Many drivers take the inner lane of the roundabout even though they are going in the direction of Flemming Street and simply cross over at any point. Drivers are reminded that if you are entering the roundabout from Sir Walter Francis Drive, please choose the lane that you are going on early when the lines are broken. Madam Speaker, Drivers going towards Flemming Street or taking the right turn onto Fishlock Road are required to be on the outer lane of the roundabout. I believe that if we adhere to the rules of the road, the accidents that we see occurring in the roundabout area can be avoided.
Madam Speaker, in conclusion, as we seek to make the city of Road Town a thriving and viable place for business and recreation, it is important that we continually seek to improve not only our roadways in terms of the conditions of the roads but also the traffic flows to reduce the congestions as much as possible. Therefore, I am pleased that this upgrade on the Main Street area will be coming to pass in short order as we make the lives of both residents and visitors much more enjoyable. Madam Speaker, I always welcome the input of our motorists who have shared their insight on where they see areas for improvement.
Madam Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity.