Statement by Honourable Kye Rymer
Minister for Transportation, Works and Utilities
Road Town Traffic Turnaround Simulation
May 1st 2020
Road Town, being the centre of commercial activity on Tortola, has developed significantly over the past decades. Like many developed and developing jurisdictions, the increase in commercial activity has generated an equally significant rise in the level of vehicular traffic accessing businesses.
Waterfront drive, which is the primary roadway through the Road Town corridor, is a gateway that links the eastern and western sections of the island; providing access to other types of activities such as educational facilities, an active port of entry, schools and other recreational facilities.
This level of activity, unfortunately, has led to traffic congestion in the heart of Road Town, and can be at best, ‘slow and go’ movement during the peak periods, in the morning, lunchtime and evenings.
The level of traffic congestion has increased especially during days of high cruise ship activities, adding to the frustration of motorist.
While plans for the Road Town area promote a pedestrian friendly environment that encourages an alternative means of transportation to curb traffic congestion, we acknowledge that there will be a need for vehicular traffic to pass through Road Town.
Traffic studies conducted by the Public Work Department, well over 10 years, concluded that the main roads through Road Town lack the capacity to accommodate the level of traffic during peak periods.
For the purpose of analyzing traffic operations, a growth rate of 2% to 3% in vehicular traffic is typically used to project traffic conditions.
Simply put, traffic operations, has been degrading and we expect will continue to degrade unless something is done.
Over the years, mitigation measures were adopted to improve traffic operations in Road Town. These measures include:
- Improvement to the Waterfront Drive corridor to introduce lay-bys to allow vehicles to pull off the road without interrupting the smooth flow of traffic.
- Installation of traffic lights within Road Town.
- Remarking of the roadway section around the Road Town roundabout to allow for two lanes of traffic on all approaches to the roundabout.
Usually a proven way to mitigate traffic congestion is to increase capacity of the road network. We acknowledge that we cannot increase capacity in Road Town by adding new roads.
This would be impractical as the constraints and layout does not allow for such measures. Another popular method for increasing capacity to address traffic congestion is to construct additional lanes to existing roads; however, this is not practical in Road Town.
A further effective measure includes the rerouting of traffic using the existing road network. This new measure, as we are now in the ‘New Regular’ as simulated, will be effective. As we have shown you how it will work.
Additionally, through education campaigns, we will inform motorist of the new traffic flow. This project requires minimal funding, and it will offer a nondestructive solution, meaning no significant alterations, if any, to the roads.
This project seeks to improve traffic conditions simply by rerouting traffic through Road Town, by converting Waterfront Drive and DeCastro Street into two-lane roads going in one direction, on both roads.
The rerouting is only but one phase of this project;
- We will have paid parking lots within the Road Town area
- Add an additional lane going westbound coming out of Admin drive onto Waterfront drive to support vehicle capacity, enabling traffic flow towards the western part of Tortola.
- Free parking at the festival grounds, to accommodate up to 270 vehicles
- Free shuttle service from the Festival grounds into Road Town
Naturally, one of the main challenges associated with this type of measure, is how well motorists can adjust. Therefore, we have started with the simulation exercise and will follow up with another simulation exercise.