Causeway roundabout asphalted

POSTED: 08/26/13 1:27 PM

Road towards causeway

The first asphalt is on the ground for the connection of the Union Road roundabout to the causeway across the lagoon. Photo Today / Hilbert Haar

St. Maarten – Contractor Volker Stevin Caribbean NV coated the roundabout that will connect Union Road to the causeway across the lagoon with asphalt last week. The project is still on schedule to be completed in December, a bit more than three months from now.

From its inception, the causeway has been the subject of sometimes heated debate for and against the project. In February 2009 for instance, Epic and the St. Maarten Price foundation published a paper that outlined their position on road network expansion. Last year, Epic’s project manager Rueben Thompson still stood by the ideas outlined in this paper.

“Much of the island government’s actions and projects aimed at the alleviation of traffic congestion have only focused on the expansion of road networks,” the two organizations stated three years ago. Various government policy plans, government commissioned reports and independent studies have however identified the alarming number of vehicles on St. Maarten as the primary cause of traffic congestion.”

All eyes will therefore be on the causeway when it opens in December and on the effect it will have on traffic congestion. Epic and Pride maintain that expanding the road network will do nothing to diminish congestion. “Building new roads without taking additional measures to improve existing roads, improve public transportation and curb the increase of vehicles on the island is merely a very temporary measure and consequently an ineffective and unsustainable strategy for resolving the island’s congestion challenges,” they wrote in their position paper.

“Research and experience in many countries show that increased road capacity is very quickly filled with what researchers have dubbed induced vehicle traffic. People tend to abandon public transportation and carpools when additional road space is made available through new road construction or linkages, thereby resulting in more cars on the road and subsequently more traffic congestion.”

The question whether the causeway will be a toll bridge still has not been answered. In December of last year, UP-parliamentarian Jules James called on French-side residents to boycott the Dutch side if a toll is implemented. James pointed out that according to the Minister of Vromi (at the time William Marlin – ed.) French-side residents will be the true beneficiaries of the causeway. James said that imposing a toll would “put up road blocks and impediments.

“The Minister needs to come clean, clear up the air and set the record straight about the people from the French side paying a toll at the causeway. Don’t you realize that such a toll would significantly deter the number of drivers from the causeway? It was never the intention to implement any toll, so why start now?” James said last year.

A week later, Minister Marlin put the story to rest, saying that he had never even suggested imposing a toll. “Breathe life into a zombie, call him William Marlin and say he has something against French people,” the minister said in a central committee meeting. “I have nothing against French people, I never had and I do not have a reason for it.”

In the meantime, there is yet another Vromi-minister in office – Maurice Lake, and he has not made any statements about the causeway yet – and certainly not about the possibility to impose tolls on motorists that wish to cross the lagoon via the new bridge come December.

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Causeway roundabout asphalted by

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