The National Works Agency is installing traffic lights at four locations in Montego Bay, St. James, to alleviate traffic flows in some areas of the city.
Janel Ricketts, Community Relations Officer for the National Works Agency Western region, says these new traffic lights will be located in areas that were once used to bypass the traffic on main roads, but have now become congested as well.
The traffic lights will be at the intersections of Felicity and Albion roads, Felicity and Salt Spring roads, Vernon’s Drive and Salt Spring Road intersection and at Vernon’s Avenue and Mount Salem.
Ricketts says the NWA started this project in November 2022, and currently, the mast arms have been placed at these locations, and the wiring of traffic lights is being done. A mast arm is a horizontal arm that attaches the light fixture or traffic signal fixtures to the streetlight pole or traffic signal pole.
This project, estimated to cost $66 million JMD, is expected to be completed in early 2023. Miss Ricketts says the NWA has also undertaken other projects to alleviate the traffic in Montego Bay until the Montego Bay bypass is completed.
“In the interim, the NWA has upgraded some of the minor roads, resurfacing (roads) and constructing curve walls along several roads.” Some of these include Westgate Hills and Mount Salem roads, Felicity Crescent and Vernon’s Drive. She says the NWA is aware of problems with some traffic lights in Montego Bay, noting various issues.
“There are various reasons why traffic lights may be out, so it’s not the same for each (traffic light). For example, sometimes they have an electrical or hardware issue.”
She says a hardware issue occurs when a damaged light component may need rewiring, or getting a part for the traffic light replaced or an issue with the control box.
Miss Ricketts says that is one of the reasons the traffic light at the entrance of Flankers was out.
“Some weeks ago, by the Flankers stoplight, we had a hardware issue which was caused by a motor vehicle accident that extensively damaged the control box. As a result, that light was down for a while, and we had to source that box from overseas”.
As a result, she said the timeline to fix these traffic lights is different. It depends on the issue the traffic light has and is not caused by getting approved, as these issues are given priority because of safety concerns.
“If it’s an electrical problem, for example, an electrical short circuit, it would be easier to fix than a damaged part that is unavailable locally.” She says there are times when the agency’s signal technician depending on the situation, fixes the traffic light temporarily until a permanent solution is available.
She also explains that when the electricity is gone, this affects the traffic lights, resulting in the NWA collaborating with the Jamaica Power Service (JPS) to restore power to the signals.
Despite the problems, she emphasized that motorists can prevent traffic lights from being inoperable if they drive slower on the road and attributes speeding as well as disobedience of the traffic light as the main reasons that the traffic signals are ineffective in Montego Bay.
The NWA Western Region head says the agency is aware that the traffic light located at the Westgate Shopping Centre on Barnett Street, is causing traffic issues and is dealing with the matter