Opinion: Alternatives

POSTED: 08/29/11 12:23 PM

The high season has started early for traffic coming from the Simpson Bay area towards Philipsburg. Well, not really, but motorists will have to get used to long delays due to the work that is currently being done on the union Road.
An economist would probably be able to calculate the economic damage the economy suffers in terms of lost productivity if an x-number of motorists have to spend an x-amount of hours sitting idly in traffic but we won’t even go there. We’d like to consider some options to get this situation out of everybody’s hair.
We know that the main bottleneck is at the junction of Wellington Road and Union Road – the point where traffic coming from the direction of Marigot merges with traffic coming from
Simpson Bay and the airport.
The most obvious solution is as drastic as it is simple: do not allow traffic coming from Marigot onto the Wellington Road.
Basically, such a drastic measure would come down to closing the border on Union Road and to redirect traffic from the French side through French Quarter and then onto Dutch Quarter or Sucker Garden. One could think about leaving Union road open until, say the Princess Casino, so that our economy does not miss out on French-side gambling money, or just a little bit further to Le Grand Marché.
Stopping the flow of traffic from Marigot via Union Road, Orange Grove Road and Wellington Road would without any doubt cut down the traveling time from Simpson Bay toward Philipsburg. It is, at least, an option to think about.
A less drastic variation would be to close off Union Road for French-side traffic during rush hours until, say, ten o’clock. That would still cause serious backups at the Wellington Road-Union Road junction from that time onwards, but at least it would give people a chance to reach their place of work in a reasonable time.
A second option would be to set up a temporary ferry service between Simpson Bay and Great Bay. Bobby Velasquez would most likely have ideas about this, or otherwise Robbie Ferron. There is already a ferry leaving from the Atrium Resort towards St. Barth. Why not use this service during rush hour to transport people from the Simpson Bay area to Philipsburg? This could be done by the existing ferry provider, or by another company. Motorists won’t really care about who’s going to do it, they just want to get past the current traffic-misery.
If none of this happens, Simpson Bay area residents could still consider the long trek through Maho and the Lowlands, through Marigot and Grand Case towards French Quarter and then on to Philipsburg. That’s a long haul, but it could prove to save people a lot of time all the same.
Ah, there is of course a final option. Much to the irritation of idling motorists, police escorts have blown past the traffic jams with official government cars behind them. One of such cars, if we are spot on with our observation that is, transported our Prime Minister from the airport towards Philipsburg.
This makes it tempting to suggest the creation of three lanes in Simpson Bay: two going towards Philipsburg and one towards the airport. That won’t help of course, because all these cars will still have to get past the point on Union Road where the contractor is working, and it does not look like there is a possibility to make the road two lanes wide at the bottleneck.
All in all, our best option seems to be to close the border, but the question is whether the government is prepared to take such a drastic measure.

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