Repair road repairs
On Tuesday evening, Dr Keith Rowley told PNM members at the Belmont Community Center something everyone in the country already knows, which is that our roads are bad and only getting worse.
Every community in this country watched in amazement as a freshly paved road was re-dug to repair new leaks, some created by the paving process.
Poor quality patchwork disintegrates through routine use in months, sometimes weeks.
Local highway engineering oversight is also suspect, on evidence of the collapse of a section of the new two-mile freeway at Mosquito Creek.
The Prime Minister’s position is that between 2020 and 2021, money that should have been spent on road infrastructure has been spent on pandemic relief.
But TT have already proven their inability to capitalize on the pitch rising from the ground at La Brea, and promising to spend more on the problem shouldn’t be the first step.
Billions are poured into a hamster wheel of costly repairs and subsequent destruction.
This common embarrassment of state civil engineers will not be solved by the creation of another quasi-governmental corporation within the Ministry of Local Government.
In Asia, Singapore leads the world in road surface quality ratings.
Among Singapore’s engineering feats is the East Coast Parkway inaugurated in 1981, a 19 km highway built on reclaimed land that overlooks a major waterway. The Marina Coastal Expressway, also built on reclaimed soil described by its engineers as “peanut butter”, stretches five kilometers with a 420-meter tunnel built under the sea.
Beyond these technical achievements, Singapore’s 3,400 km of paved roads are so good that the Singapore Grand Prix is one of only five races in the world that are held on streets built for public use.
Hosting the Grand Prix was a by-product of Singapore’s approach to road building, honed over the past 50 years.
To reduce traffic and road impact, the country has tried several techniques. Singapore largely abandoned vehicle taxes in 1990 in favor of electronic road-use pricing, which levied higher charges for vehicle use in congested areas, while significantly improving its transport systems public by metro.
Privileged citizens pay for quota-limited vehicles and use public transport to get to work.
The island’s roads are continuously monitored using sophisticated laser and sonar equipment that collects data for the country’s pavement management system.
Maintenance is scheduled based on this active road assessment and remedial works on the country’s roads are rare.
Singapore even creates different grades of asphalt to meet the needs of different road systems, balancing wear, grip and safety.
Singapore’s system isn’t perfect, but it aspires to be, and it’s a tried and tested project that the Department of Public Works and TT traffic planners could build on.