East Coast/East Bank bypass works expected to start in late 2019

Nigel Erskine (Department of Public Information photo)

With a preliminary study saying that a four-lane highway is most feasible, works on the road link between the East Coast and East Bank of Demerara are expected to begin in the final quarter of 2019, according to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure’s Technical Services Manager Nigel Erskine.

Erskine told Sunday Stabroek that the preliminary report, which was produced by the Indian firm RITES Limited, was handed over to the ministry just over two weeks ago.

“We are expecting that we will have the draft design report about four and a half months from now and after a month from that, the final design with the drawings and the tender documents should be ready by April. After there, it will go into bidding so that would take about another four to six months so by the last quarter of the year we should have a contractor mobilised and some works should start,” Erskine explained.

The report has estimated that the project will cost approximately US$104 million, which Erskine said could be more or less when the project is finalised and they receive the draft design early next year. After commencement, the project is slated to take approximately two years to complete. It is expected to result in a four-lane road along the main alignment and two roads along the secondary connectors.

“We would have finalised the alignment that we are using for the project and the main alignment is going to be from the Ogle Airport Road, starting from the East Coast [Highway]. There are basically three different parts along the main alignment; from the East Coast to the Railway Embankment, from the Railway Embankment to the GuySuCo Compound and then it goes into the cane field all the way to Diamond and will be about 15 kilometres of road,” he explained.

The alignment will also feature four connectors along the main alignment that will link the roads on the coast and the bank of Demerara.

“The design is basically four lanes for the main alignment, so from the Greenfield area, which is from the end of the GuySuCo compound, to the Diamond connector, is going to be four lanes,” he added.

Rapid rail

Erskine pointed out that the road will also feature a 40-metre reserve in the middle of the two lanes, which the Ministry has decided on due to Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson’s plan to have a rapid rail developed from Ogle to the Timehri airport that would enable persons to travel between the two locations within 15 minutes.

He also noted that they decided to leave the reserve since they have had issues in the past with encumbrances that resulted in them having to reclaim lands on the shoulders of the road where persons would’ve been squatting.

“So, there won’t be any need for that because it is unlikely that persons will squat in the middle of the road. It is for the future also whether you will need it in the next 100 years or near future for development. That is why the reserve will be there. Minister also talked about future plans to have a rapid rail, so we have the space earmarked there, so in the future we would be able to construct it in the centre,” he explained.

Erskine added that they are also mulling the construction of two roundabouts at the East Coast and at Diamond, on the East Bank, to assist with the flow of traffic. However, those details will be finalised next year.

While such large road projects have been delayed in the past, Erskine said that they do not expect to have any delays since there is little to no obstruction along the planned alignment as compared to developments along the East Bank and East Coast corridors.

The consultants, in the designing phase, will also be putting forward a proposal to ensure that there will be an adequate supply of materials to ensure that the project flows smoothly.

Early last year, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan had signed off on a US$50 million loan with the Exim Bank of India for the construction of a 20 kilometre road from Ogle on the East Coast of Demerara, to Diamond on the East Bank of Demerara.

Jordan had explained that the frustration of road users due to the lack of an adequate road network system to meet the tremendous growth was noted, and that the bypass road is a small step in the comprehensive expansion of the country’s road network system to reduce congestion and improve travel times on the roadways.

The new road link will serve as a corridor for communities on the East Bank, including Perseverance, Mocha, Providence, Eccles, and Peter’s Hall. It will also provide a bypass from the city, where most traffic flows daily, resulting in massive congestion and major delays.

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