A much-needed upgrade on the streets
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis gave his third national report on Monday outlining a series of roadwork and infrastructure initiatives his administration intends to pursue.
“Infrastructure is about improving the quality of life for all citizens and providing business opportunities for Bahamian entrepreneurs,” he said.
In New Providence, Gladstone Road will be expanded.
“I am happy to announce this evening that the design phase for the widening of the Gladstone Road corridor from two lanes to four lanes is about to commence,” said Minnis.
“The improvement to this corridor will increase the north-south road network capacity which will result in a reduction in delays along this congested corridor during heavy peak hour traffic.”
The prime minister also announced the government will seek proposals from local consultants for the design and supervision of major thoroughfares across the island, including Tonique Williams-Darling Highway, between Bethel Avenue and John F. Kennedy Drive, and Baillou Hill Road between Soldier Road and Cowpen Road.
He said the government plans to improve the section of road between Soldier Road and Carmichael Road by increasing the number of southbound lanes and by widening the section of Baillou Hill Road to Cowpen Road from two lanes to four lanes.
“We will continue with increasing the north-south road network capacity by extending the existing Milo Butler Highway southwards from Carmichael Road to Cowpen Road,” Minnis continued.
“The proposed project will comprise a new four-lane dual carriageway together with roundabout junctions, street lighting, drainage, sidewalks, traffic signs, road markings and landscaping.”
Minnis said his government is also developing a design for the improvement of Coconut Grove between Baillou Hill Road and East Street, as well as junction improvements at Commonwealth Boulevard and Prince Charles Drive, and Arawak Cay and West Bay Street.
Other road improvements in New Providence will include a new roundabout at West Bay Street and Blake Road, and the resurfacing of Village Road.
The last Free National Movement (FNM) administration remade the New Providence road network through the New Providence Road Improvement Project. Though it was poorly managed and caused tremendous hardship to businesses and motorists, the new roads and changes improved the flow of traffic on the island.
What has been missing for years on the New Providence road network, however, is a modern traffic signal system.
Many of our lights are old. They malfunction frequently. They are not smart – that is, they do not have built-in technology to detect traffic flow. They cannot adapt to where congestion is.
Take Shirley Street for example. It is a major artery into downtown. The traffic flows from east to west with north-south intersections.
The east-to-west traffic usually is heavier than at the north-south intersections. Yet often, congestion builds because long green lights are given to non-existent north-south traffic.
A smart network would know where congestion is and adjust so it could flow.
This is a problem across the island. The Minnis administration seems to understand intervention is needed. During his address the prime minister pledged to create a traffic management center to monitor all signals remotely, “in an effort to improve response times to any technical issues that require attention”.
“This traffic management center will also observe changes in traffic flow patterns and/or volumes; adjust signal timings to optimize the performance of the junction or signalized corridor and collect daily traffic data on a continuous basis,” said Minnis.
We hope the government is serious about this and funds the initiative to fruition. Such an operation would need to be managed by competent people – whether it is a government agency, or a private company managing on the government’s behalf.
Time is a precious commodity. The residents of New Providence waste too much of it in unnecessary traffic. A modern, smart traffic signal network would please every person and business on this island.