Brace for more traffic jam today

Friday, March 2, 2018 - 02:00

If you plan on heading into the capital city today for work, business or pleasure expect a significant traffic disruption as one of the main arteries used by motorists, the Lady Young Road, in Morvant is unlikely to be reopened.

Engineers worked overnight to clear mounds of rock, trees and silt which posed a significant threat and are hoping to reopen at least one lane of the roadway today.

Alternative routes into and out of the city are the Eastern Main Road and the Beetham Highway.

Drivers can also take the scenic, but longer route, through Maraval and Santa Cruz.

Rocks began tumbling off the mountain on Wednesday, close to the lookout, and the roadway was closed shortly after 3 pm as workers cleared the site. The roadway was reopened around 10 pm on Tuesday but another rockslide took place at the same location shortly before 3 am yesterday.

Early risers who were affected sought alternative routes through St Francois Valley Road and Maryland Hill but reported that they were pounced on by bandits and police advised motorists to avoid those areas.

For most of yesterday traffic into and out of the city was moving at snail’s pace with many drivers complaining about the lack of traffic management by the police and other authorities. Some motorists opted to beat the jam by driving on the shoulder of the highway. Taxi drivers complained that they were unable to make their usual quota.

But Brent Batson, coordinator of the Road Safety Project of the T&T Police Service (TTPS) warned motorists to refrain from using the shoulders of the roadways or risk getting a ticket which carries a $1,000 fine.

Geotechnical engineer Dr Derek Gay, who was on site yesterday, said: “We need to get to the top of the mountain and remove the one third of the way up, we have to cut that out, we have to get an excavator, but we can’t get to the top because that is dangerous, we’ll have to cut our way across, go to the side, set up a bench and remove the overhanging debris.”

Gay said that is the part of the slope where water has infiltrated over time and washed away the sediments that kept the rock cohesive.

He said the overhanging rocks, which were almost at a vertical angle to the roadway, had to cleared before it fell naturally.

Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan last night promised that more police officers will be stationed along the access routes around the Lady Young Road, Morvant, in order to prevent a repeat of yesterday’s gridlock traffic.

He also said the traffic arrangements put in place, including the opening of the Priority Bus Route to light traffic from Morvant Junction to Abattoir Road, Port-of-Spain, would remain until further notice.

Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambhrat said the Forestry Division was also working to help alleviate the situation.

“During the wet season there were a number of rockslides particularly in the area between the Hilton Hotel and the lookout,” Rambharat said.

“We are also assisting with advice on forestry techniques to reduce erosion in some areas,” Rambharat said.

“The erosion requires a few solutions—removal of tree trunks which because of their weight cause slides in wet conditions; benching — which is like terracing to reduce slides; monitoring to take pre-emptive action when there is continuous rainfall,” he said.