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Engineer Recommends Toll Roads


A local engineer has submitted recommendations for the government to protect its quarter billion dollar investment in the New Providence Road Improvement Project (NPRIP) by introducing a toll booth system in four major thoroughfares in the capital.

Principal of Caribbean Civil Group Ray McKenzie says the government would make close to $40 million if it were to introduce toll booths at roadways like the airport gateway, Bethel Avenue, Tonique Williams Darling and the East/West Highways.

“I think it’s time for the government to transition into [figuring out] how to maintain these roads,” he said. “It has to be maintained because it is the equivalent to building a $10 million house and letting it sit without maintenance.”

Mr. McKenzie said the roads mentioned are only suggestions and the government would have to do a study.

“As road users, if the roads aren’t properly maintained it’s a cost to you,” he said. “We don’t need a study in order to realise that. You know that if you travel over bad roads, there will be parts on your cars that you have to change like your shocks and tires. Your fuel costs will escalate and so there is a direct benefit to road users.”

The engineer said the toll is not a tax.

“Say if you have to go to the airport and you use a toll road it may save you some time rather than others. If you’re travelling on a Sunday you can go all the way around. The toll roads give you a type of a choice so that you don’t have to use a toll road if you don’t want to,” he said.

“Also, the government will now have a pool of money earmarked for road maintenance. We talked about the 33 miles of roadway. It just makes great business sense for the government to hire 10 contractors to maintain three miles each. Could imagine what that does for the economy if we have 10 small contractors that each have to hire crews.”

Mr. McKenzie said the toll booths would work similar to the ones in Florida where there is a Sun Pass rather than bearing a line to pay.

“I envision that it would work similar to the one we have on Paradise Island where you elect to pay as you go or you can elect as a substantial discount purchase a transponder every 12 to six months at roadway speed,” he said.

“We must maintain these roads because for every year you defer on not maintaining a roadway whenever you get around to reconstructing that roadway it costs you 10 times as much. If we don’t maintain these roadways we are looking at coming back 10 to 15 years later to come to reconstruct and pay about $400 million to $500 million to get that work done and add to the debt of the country.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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