4-lane highway not the answer
Guyana Chronicle
February 12, 2002

A 4-lane road, Harbour Bridge to Ruimveldt is not the answer to the congestion on this stretch of the East Bank road, even though and at whatever expense the bridges have already been widened.

Road improvement should be a compromise between those who live and walk along the road and vehicular through traffic. Anyone who projects the width of the widened bridges down the road south from McDoom village will see that there is not enough space for a 4-lane road.

This stretch of road is already the busiest stretch of road in Guyana. If a 4-lane road is squeezed in here, the quality of life of all residents alongside will plummet. Already there is intolerable noise, structural vibration and dust, such that, for example, the concrete, domed roof of the Masjid at McDoom village (the first such Masjid in Guyana) is cracking up and residents on the western leeward side can hardly open their windows. Quickening a road like this is also dangerous.

There will be no space left for drainage of the road or for the property alongside, or for wires, cables, pipelines and other future roadside wayleaves, nor will there be room for a pedestrian pavement which should be the ultimate aim for all roadways if they are to be people-friendly, especially trunk roads.

On Minister Xavier's announcement in the GINA "Answers" programme that this road is programmed for 2002, I telephoned to ask but his PRO couldn't say whether a central reservation/barrier to separate the two-way traffic is envisaged. Two-way on a 4-lane road without such a barrier is inconceivable, simply too dangerous. Abroad, such a road (with the barrier of course) is called a dual carriage-way, and I wish it would be called such instead of frightening people.

There is need for some long term, marco-planning. Assuming a Harbour bridge Vreed-en-hoop to Stabroek was originally rejected for good reason, Georgetown our capital is approachable only from the south and east. Eastern approaches are more than adequate, to such an extent that Professor Akhtar of current G.G.D.P fame called the Railway embankment a waste of money.

The Southern approach, which is the East Bank roadway, is overloaded because it doubles as the western approach road due to the Harbour Bridge. Also, this stretch of road has had to serve major recent developments at Eccles, Nandy Park, Diamond, etc. with more to come and also increasing hinterland traffic. There is a crying need for another southern approach road as an alternative to the existing road.

To facilitate inner city access, most capital cities have what is called a `ring' road with roads radiating out from this road to various parts of the country as it develops, the objective being to circle before you enter, thus minimising congestion in the centre. Originally, North Road, South Road, Lombard/High Streets, and Vlissengen Road formed our `ring road'. London has three such ring roads. The city having expanded, Lamaha Street and perhaps Broad Street should now become parts of an outer ring road with Broad Street being extended Eastward and an alternative southern approach road to Georgetown could link up to Broad Street.

A "Harbour Bridge Road" should extend eastwards from the bride to link up with an alternative southern approach and thence on Broad Street. A "No left turn" sign should be posted at the eastern end of the bridge and a `no right turn' sign be posted on the current northern East Bank road approach to the bridge. Thus, all traffic from West of the city will access to and from the city by their own separate southern approach road as would have been natural hadn't such access been precluded by the river.

The new road somewhere not too far east of the existing road will be a trunk road. To avoid the problem of vehicles having to join the road from housing/business alongside and too many intersections (which will always plague the current East Bank road), the new road should not accept housing immediately alongside. Any residential areas should approach this new trunk road only from a branch road.

What happens south of the extended Harbour Bridge Road, we are much more free to decide. We could have a straight, fast road from Timehri to the extended Broad Street for airport, Linden, hinterland and even Brazil traffic. Such a fast road may attract the sand and bush trucks away from the current residential road. Branches eastward can bypass the city to the East Coast etc.

I take this opportunity to applaud our government for the GINA programmes which give citizenry the opportunity to become engaged in matters of major importance to them. I trust they were meant to be consultative.