SHTA met with Police Commissioner Carl John and Inspector Benjamin Gout of the Traffic division of the Police on Thursday morning to discuss our concerns regarding the traffic situation in Simpson Bay/ Cole Bay.
They explained in detail the role of the police department within the chain of command, from the Minister of Justice to VROM to the contractors to the police. Mr. John also explained that they have been enacting a new general policy of communication and working closer with the community.
During the meeting, SHTA relayed concerns from the establishments in that area that are seeing significant drops in business as a result of the congestion and inaccessibility, as well as the enormous negative publicity St. Maarten is receiving as a result of the traffic congestion. SHTA then went on to propose, amongst others, the following suggestions to alleviate traffic in the Cole Bay/ Simpson Bay area:
· Reopen the Union Road to two way traffic all the way to the Midass Roundabout. It serves no purpose to send all of the traffic from Marigot and Cole Bay through the Welfare road or the warehouse district. This traffic does not have to be there and wouldn’t be there if the Union Rd. was open to the Midass Roundabout.
· Either reverse the direction of the Cake house Road (Alexis Arnell Rd.), or, make it temporarily open to two-way traffic as it was in the past and most recently during the construction of the Midass roundabout. All traffic from Marigot and Cole Bay can then go to Philipsburg via the Cake house Rd. or through the Midass Roundabout.
Traffic police informed SHTA that the aforementioned alternatives had been tried in the past and that the present circular motion route is the best option under the circumstances. It was made evident that there are no easy answers. The Police also stated that our roads are not meant for the current traffic volume that we have i.e. there are too many cars on the road and that the amount of cars is growing at a rapid pace. However, a course of action was discussed. The Police will be working with the control unit twice a day at the peak traffic hours to help facilitate smooth flow of traffic through the Daily Extra/Cay Bay Rd. bottleneck. Police officers will be on the scene to reduce illegal traffic maneuvers and to help with traffic flow in the extended area, to keep everyone moving as quickly as possible and to serve as a deterrent to the many abusers of traffic laws driving on the wrong side of the road and some of the other aggressive actions being witnessed daily that are counterproductive and dangerous.
The police were very appreciative of the meeting and happy they were to be able to communicate with the SHTA regarding this matter as they have been under extreme pressure to find remedies to a problem that is complicated. All in all, it was a very positive meeting that changes very little, except for the level of understanding.
SHTA plans to meet with other departments/ entities to ensure that private sector is included in the planning stages from now on, and also to better understand the schedule of the current works and whether it is likely to be completed on schedule or not. Furthermore, SHTA will explore methods to deal with and respond to the negative impact on destination St. Maarten.