Opinion: The St. Maarten traffic situation

POSTED: 08/30/11 12:24 PM

Many readers are upset about the traffic situation in Cole Bay and they will remain upset for quite some time, as least for as long as the culvert that is being constructed under the welfare road is not finished yet. And that is scheduled to be the case in mid-December.
Alternatives to ease the pressure and to improve the flow of traffic are extremely limited. Yesterday we suggested closing the Dutch-French border to diminish the number of cars that drives from Wellington Road onto Union Road towards Philipsburg.
Yesterday a reader came up with a couple of other useful hints.”Working hours on the Welfare Road must be in full force 24/7,” he wrote. “During the weekend I only saw a few people working on the road. This is unacceptable.”
The reader stated that he cannot imagine why the work has to last three months. And here is the idea that could at least speed things up: “During night hours the Welfare Road can be closed for all traffic. That makes working safer for the workers and they will be able to maneuver easier.”
The reader also suggested using more than one contractor – but that idea will most likely run into so many contractual issues that the work will be completed long before these have been sorted out.
Another suggestion the reader made was to simply close the Welfare road and to let traffic from Simpson Bay to Philipsburg travel via the Waterfront Road, Wellington Road and Orange Grove Road onto the Union Road. Traffic on these roads would be two-way. In this situation, only local traffic for car dealers and Texaco would be allowed on the Welfare Road.
These are interesting ideas, especially the one about working throughout the night. This is common practice in the United States for highway maintenance. Contractors work with large crews that get the job done in an as short as possible time.
There is of course still a backdoor option in Cole Bay, and that is using the Cay Bay Road that leads towards the GEBE power plant and the Seaside Nature Park. Traffic would cross the Indigo Bay project grounds and emerge at the roundabout atop the Harold Jack Hill.
This option was already acknowledged by the new works department last week, though ir. Kurt Ruan told reporters that he preferred not to give this backdoor to much publicity. Part of this Road is of course unpaved and it is also potentially dangerous at night because there are no public street lights.
And we wonder whether this solution would really bring relief in quantities that matter, because the turnoff to the Cay Bay road is very close to the point where traffic gets stuck at the junction of Wellington Road and Welfare Road.

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