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STREET BEAT: Overpass hardly used


Carlos Atwell, carlosatwell @nationnews.com

STREET BEAT: Overpass hardly used

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THE MULTImillion-dollar overpass in the Pine, St Michael has come in for both praise and criticism since its launch in 2013.

The benefits of being able to walk over highway traffic instead of darting through it was contrasted by queries of just how many people would actually use it in the first place with many considering a pedestrian crossing a more viable and affordable option.

Since its erection, there have been reports of lawless individuals throwing objects at passing vehicles from above but such activity has since subsided.

Now, more than two years later, Street Beat returned to the overpass to get an idea of what people think of it and if it is being utilised.

For the hours the Weekend Nation team was there observing it was quite underutilised in comparison to the newly-constructed crossing at Spring Garden. There is a higher volume of pedestrian traffic at the latter.

Virginia Goodman is a fan of the structure. She said it was convenient for her but admitted she initially approached using it with some trepidation, a feeling she said others still held.

“At first it was a bit frightening with the wind blowing but I’m okay with it now. It’s sturdy but I know someone who said they afraid it will come down because it looks like a jigsaw puzzle,” she said, referring to the middle section where the concrete joints can clearly be seen.

There is no danger however, as that section is sealed in place and anchored to the surrounding metal security cage.

Even though the overpass is there for safe travels over the highway, some people see it as extra walk and try their luck across traffic, vaulting over the Jersey barrier in the middle. Gary Lashley said he had witnessed first-hand the folly of this action.

“I prefer to use it than skip over the barrier. I know a fella who went over it and a girl brake up and the next thing you know, somebody run into the back of she. It takes more time but it is a lot safer,” he said.

Lashley did have a suggestion, though. He said the security barrier on the top could be extended to the top part of the side barriers as “as some people get afraid as they get to the top.”

Sydney Munro said he was not about to risk his life darting in front of speeding vehicles so he had no problem using the overpass. In fact, he said he wanted to see more of them put into place.

“I don’t really use it often but I want to live long so I’m not risking going across the road. This was a good idea; they need another one down Haggatt Hall side,” he said.

Student Destinee Clarke said she used it to cross the highway when she was heading towards the bus stop to get to school and again when she was heading home from school. She said she did not fear the height.

I think it is convenient but a lot of walk too. I use it when I going school and when I come home from school. It doesn’t frighten me,” she said.

Another woman, who was not identified, held similar sentiments to Clarke. She said she liked the convenience of not having to cross the highway through traffic but admitted it was a little tiring.

“It’s convenient but tiresome for people like me who don’t exercise,” she said.

A man, who requested anonymity, said the overpass was used for more than just walking across the highway.

“I don’t see a lot of people using it but what I do see is that on a Sundays, you see photographers doing photo shoots up there with models and such,” he said.

However, he said he also saw schoolchildren running across the road and heard complaints it was a waste of time, speculating it was because they thought it took them too long to get to the other side. At any rate, the man said he used it and to him, it was a good idea.

Principal of Parkinson Memorial Jeff Broomes was present at the opening, with the ribbon being cut by the then head girl. Street Beat spoke to him on how beneficial it has been since and any concerns he had.

“My main concern is, despite the walkover being there, too many of my children are going over the jersey barriers. I have spoken to them and even suspended children but it is still going on and that is frightening to me because cars pass there quickly and you cannot expect drivers to be looking out for people wantonly crossing,” he said.

To make matters worse, Broomes said he saw adults and older students attending the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic also crossing the road which set a bad example.

“I saw a guy going over the barrier with a bicycle, throwing it over and I think it is amazing. The only good thing is that I don’t see people throwing litter from up there,” he said.

Broomes said he loved the overpass, adding he used it himself at times. He said it alleviated the problem the school had before when lights were in place and the fumes from vehicles stopping and starting affected staff and students.

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