Increased traffic warrants cross island road improvements

The poor condition and projected increase in traffic levels on the central cross-island road has been identified as a need for the critical link between the south coast and Apia.

Revealed in the Land Transport Authority’s March 2020 Draft Resettlement Plan for the Asian Development Bank (A.D.B.), traffic is expected to grow at the rate of 3.5 per cent per annum.

The Cross Island Road stretches from the northern side of the Ifiifi Street intersection in the outskirts of Apia and progresses southwards across the central highlands of Upolu to the central cross island road, ending at the intersection with the south coast road in Siumu.

“Based on traffic counts recorded at the same locations in 2007, 2013, and more recently in 2018 plus other socio-economic factors central cross island road, traffic is estimated to grow at a rate of 3.5 per cent per annum,” the report states.

“The 2018 traffic counts indicate that there are presently about 7,000 vehicles per day using the central cross-island road in the built-up urban area of Apia and about 1,350 vehcicles per day for the remainder of the alignment.”

The central cross island road has not been repaved for many years although some sections have recently received emergency repairs.

According to the Preliminary Environmental Assessment Report from May 2019, the upgrade project is estimated to cost $40.4 million which covers approximately 20 kilometres of the cross island road.

The project will also finance a three-year routine maintenance of the upgraded  central cross-island road commencing immediately after the physical completion of the road upgrading with gender-inclusive elements; and capacity strengthening for the road subsector, complementing World Bank’s initiatives.

Outlined in the L.T.A. plan, such improvement has been warranted by narrow traffic lanes that barely cater for two cars in some places, steep and often unsafe large open drains in close proximity to the edge of the live traffic lane, lack of footpaths or places for pedestrians to walk safely and lack of formalised bus stopping areas.

“Many students walk dangerously along the road’s edge to go to school or a bus stop. This situation is made worse in the locations where large open side drains also exist,” the plan highlights.

Other current road conditions consist of insufficient width and opportunity for safe vehicle overtaking, inadequate drainage along much of the road resulting in deluges of muddy water and even rubbish draining onto properties in the lower lying areas, and the much-needed patchwork road surface repairs.

Also revealed in the plan were the 159 lots which will be affected by the project. To minimise the impact on assets, land will be acquired from both sides of the road, but it will not be a requirement to change ownership of these lands.

“While no resettlement of people or major structures (e.g. houses) is required, it will nonetheless inevitably be necessary to formally acquire land and other assets for road widening, footpaths and raising of road embankments.”

“There are no impacts on house structures, and as a result, there will be no forced physical displacement. The majority of impacts to assets consist of fences and hedges, and a lesser extent productive trees and small structures.”

The A.D.B.  has financed the design of the project and will provide financing to the government for project implementation.

Project co-financing is also provided by the Green Climate Fund (G.C.F.). The accredited entity for the G.C.F. is the United Nations Development Programme (U.N.D.P.).

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