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Tourists using dangerous road – Gov’t wants land

Mark Vanterpool

Amid concern that tourists are heavily using a dangerously narrow roadway on the island of Tortola, Minister of Communication and Works Mark Vanterpool last evening issued a general appeal for private landowners to willingly surrender property where necessary to facilitate the widening of public roads.

“As we come to these roads, it’s not just to jump up and pave them. We have to deal with the engineering to slant them the right way, and also issues of land that we have to acquire to be able to widen the roads,” the minister said.

He continued: “We, to a large extent, have the cooperation of the public; they are working with us and we want to thank them. But we continue to work with those who own land alongside the road to encourage them to help us to be able to expand and widen the roads to deal with the traffic situation.”

Vanterpool made the appeal during his government’s NDP Radio programme last evening, May 1, when he responded to concerns raised about the narrowness of the Ridge Road located on Tortola.

‘Dangerous Situation’

Raising the concern, former Government minister Eileen Parsons lamented that tourists often use the Ridge Road, which she said is too narrow, and so can result in a dangerous situation.

“I would like to honestly plead for – on any given cruise ship day – you Honourable Vanterpool, [Premier and minister responsible for tourism] Dr Smith, and [Junior Minister of Tourism] Mr Christian come on the Ridge Road between my house and the church, and see the dangerous situation that is there on any given cruise ship day,” Parsons said.

“From my place to the church Safaris are lined, and the little elbow there [in the landscape] – it needs taking out. The road needs widening. It’s frightening. Sometimes the taximen – they are enjoying the view more than the tourists; so they don’t see who is coming to them or who is going. If you all could see it maybe something would be done to alleviate what could be a dangerous situation,” added Parsons.

Vanterpool agreed that the Ridge Road should be widened, but he noted the need to use private land.

“That’s one of the reasons we haven’t really started [work on] that Ridge Road as yet – in terms of expanding it, because we are dealing with some land issues there. The road is too narrow and, for us to improve the road like we are doing with the other roads, we need to at least get 22 feet wide. We normally want 24 but 22 [feet] will do. A number of areas there are very narrow,” Vanterpool said.

He continued: “We are working to try to get some more land and widen the [Ridge] Road so that, when we are ready to pave it, we can get at least a 22-foot road – but preferably especially with the Safari buses, a 24-foot wide road. So that’s something we are working on as we go along.”

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