It was described by Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan as the “gateway which will create a new path to the further development of T&T.”
And an important part of that gateway was expected to have been opened by the start of this year.
But now Sinanan is hoping that the 30 kilometres portion of the highway which is under construction as part of the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension to Point Fortin project will now be able to be completed by June.
“The Government remains focused on completing the Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension to Point Fortin project,” the Ministry of Works stated.
As many as 1,400 service providers, suppliers, professionals, and labourers are employed on this project at any given time.
“This priority link involves the completion of approximately 30 km of highway, includes the completion of the St Mary’s Grant Road, Mon Desir and La Brea Interchanges.
It also included the completion of roundabouts at Dumfries intersection, Shore of Peace and Dunlop as well as overpasses with connectivity at Delhi Road and La Retreat Road. There is the intention to further the interconnectivity of the Solomon Hochoy Highway from Golconda to Fyzabad and therefore as a second priority, the objective is to complete all works between Golconda to Suchit Trace in Penal to improve connectivity along the mainline,” the Ministry of Works stated.
The COVID-19 pandemic was the latest roadblock in the construction of the highway.
“We know what happened with COVID that pushed back all of the construction projects. So we are looking at some time in 2021 to have that highway completed but work is fully underway we have five local contractors, 12 packages all under construction,” Sinanan said.
“The Solomon Hochoy Highway Extension to Point Fortin Project was initially conceived as the construction of a highway built to international freeway standards comprising of several segments, with a total length of 47 km of 4-lane highway and 2.5km of 2-lane highway (connector roads),” the National Infrastructure Development Company (Nidco) stated.
Nidco said the work envisaged included the extension of the existing highway from Golconda to Debe through Penal, Siparia, Fyzabad and Mon Desir to Dunlop Roundabout in Point Fortin.
It also included the upgrade/widening of the South Trunk Road from Dumfries Road to Paria Suites and from Paria Suites to St Mary’s Junction via Mosquito Creek, with the construction of a new link from St Mary’s Junction to Mon Desir
As well as connector roads from the new highway to Union Estate (La Brea), Siparia, Fyzabad and Penal.
In 2015, Nidco was directed to focus on the completion of the vast project. The northern link from Dumfries Roundabout to Dunlop includes a connection from Mon Desir Interchange back to Fyzabad Road.
This link involves the completion of approximately 30 km of highway and includes the completion of St Mary, Mon Desir, Grants Road, and La Brea Interchanges.
It also included the completion of roundabouts at Dumfries, Shore-of-Peace and Dunlop as well as overpasses with connectivity at Delhi Road and La Retreat Road / #8 Road.
The completion of this link is being pursued utilising the FIDIC Red Book Conditions of Contract under 12 work packages.
The 12 work packages allow for the participation of local contractors.
The schedule for the completion of all 12 packages of this priority link was expected to be completed by December 2020.
This was to ensure early improved connectivity from San Fernando and environs to Point Fortin, NIDCO stated.
“There is an intention to further the connectivity of the Solomon Hochoy Highway from Golconda towards Penal and as a second priority additional work packages will be prepared to complete all works between Golconda to Suchit Trace in Penal,” NIDOC stated.
Construction works on SHHEPF is said to be “continuing apace” the Ministry of Works and Transport stated.
Roadworks along the Mosquito Creek stretch are said to about 75 per cent completed.
The majority of all the foundation work is said to be completed while work still needs to be completed on the north bound bridge as well as the sea wall.
The SHHEPF project includes the completion of the northern link from Dumfries intersection to Dunlop Roundabout with a connection from Mon Desir Interchange back to Fyzabad Road.
“This project along with many others are expected to expand the national Highway Network and inevitably facilitate the following benefits such as inter-connectivity between rural and urban communities; and ease traffic congestion in Trinidad and Tobago,” the Ministry of Works and Transport stated.
In 2018 prime minister Dr Keith Rowley emphasised that the former administration acted against the advice of NIDCO and international best practices in several ways including awarding the project as one contract to a single contractor.
He said as a result of the expanse of the contract, local contractors were automatically ineligible to participate in the project.
Rowley said his Government disaggregated the project into smaller packages to allow for greater participation of the local construction sector.
PUT IN BOX
PHASE 1 – PACKAGES 2A, 2B & 1A
* These packages were focused on completing works along the South Trunk Road. These packages practically completed and was opened to traffic on June 8th, 2018. These packages are in the defect’s notification stage of the contract and punch list items are still ongoing.
PHASE 2 – PACKAGES 1B & 1D
* These packages were awarded in November and construction works are ongoing. The scope under these packages involve the completion of (4) four bridges within a 10 months duration, namely; Package 1B (Oropouche River Bridge and Mon Desir Interchange Bridge and Package 1D (#8 Road Bridge and Guapo River Bridge).
PHASE 3 – PACKAGE 5A
* NIDCO invited tenders for this Package in 2018. Works on this package includes the completion of a full upgrade of the South Trunk Road at Mosquito Creek which is expected to eliminate the perennially flooding problem in that area.
* The scope includes ground improvement works to the existing carriageway, road-works, drainage works, embankment construction, 2.5 km of revetment and sea wall construction. Also, demolition and reconstruction of Mosquito Creek Bridge (Northbound) installation of road safety devices, lighting, the relocation of major utilities owned by the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) and the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC).
PHASE 4 – PACKAGE 1C & 5B
* NIDCO invited tenders for these Packages on 19th May 2018. These packages were also awarded in 2018 and construction works commenced in January 2019.
* Package 1C has a scope including the completion of the St Mary interchange, Delhi Overpass bridge and Grants Road overpass Bridge.
* Package 5B has a scope including the completion of approximately two (2) Km of 4-lane Highway between Grants Road and La Brea and two (2) Km of connector road towards La Brea industrial estate.
PHASE 5 – PACKAGE 6C & 3A
* These two (2) construction package were tendered in August of 2018. Package 3A was awarded and the scope includes construction of the La Brea Interchange and Southern Main Road (SMR) overpass bridge.
* Package 6C scope includes completion of 1.6 km of two (2) Km of 4-lane Highway along the priority link between La Brea Interchange and Southern Main Road (Vance River). This package also includes the completion of a 1.0 Km link from Mon Desir back to Fyzabad Road.
PHASE 6 – PACKAGE 2C & 5D
* These two (2) construction packages were tendered in October of 2018.
* Package 2C was awarded and the scope includes completion of 8.0 km of two (2) Km of 4-lane Highway from St Mary’s to Eccles trace. The segment was partially opened to traffic in 2014 in an incomplete state.
* Package 5D was awarded and the scope includes completion of 4.5 km of two (2) Km of 4-lane Highway from Southern Main Road to Dunlop Roundabout.
* Completion of Mosquito Creek South Bound Bridge and Godineau River Bridge PACKAGE 1B Completion of Mon Desir Interchange Bridge and Oropouche River Bridge PACKAGE 1C Completion of St. Mary’s I/C Bridge Grants Rd I/C Bridge and Delhi Rd Overpass PACKAGE 1D Completion of No. 8 Road Overpass and Guapo River Bridge
* Completion of the widening of South Trunk Road from Dumfries Road to Mosquito Creek
* Completion of the widening of South Trunk Road from Godineau River Bridge to St. Mary’s
* Completion of Stretches Mon Desir to Eccles Trace, and St. Mary’s to Mon Desir stretches.
* Construction of Southern Main Road Overpass and La Brea I/C Bridge
* Completion of segment between Mosquito Creek to Godineau River PACKAGE 5B Completion of segment between Eccles Trace and La Brea + La Brea Connector Road
* Completion of the segment between Southern Main Road (B44) to Dunlop Roundabout
* Completion of segment between La Brea Interchange to Southern Main Road and Fyzabad Road to Mon Desir Interchange