A quick fix resurfacing of the northern half of Douglas promenades has gone down well with motorists, says new Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer.
The scheme to resurface the badly potholed stretch of road from Central Promenade to the Summerhill junction is only costing about £40,000 – but is expected to last two years at the most before it starts to break up again.
Former Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne has branded it a ‘clear waste of taxpayers’ money’.
But his successor Ray Harmer told the Examiner: ’It’s gone down really well. Some parts of the road had got so bad that we could not really have left it any longer.’
The scheme which began on Friday, November 18, and could be completed this week, involves resurfacing a three-metre wide strip on either side of the tram tracks.
It is being carried out in two phases, with the first section from Broadway to the Palace Hotel having already been completed. Work is now well under way on the section from the Palace Hotel to Summer Hill junction and could be finished by this evening (Tuesday). Two way traffic has been maintained throughout.
All the traffic management equipment and cones will be removed from the site on Wednesday and line painting will be carried out as soon as possible after that.
The southern section of the promenade will not be resurfaced. Highway chiefs insist a full reconstruction of the promenades is needed as the foundations are failing.
Highways engineer Darren Young said: ‘We are just improving the rideability and making it a comfier rider. It is only a quick fix. It’s only expected to last about a year, two years maximum, before it starts to break up.’
The Minister says he will come forward to the December Tynwald with ‘high level proposals’ for the redevelopment of the promenade. If Tynwald approves those proposals then he will seek funding approval in January. He expects the scheme to be completed within five years.
Mr Harmer said: ‘We’ve got to keep it simple, we’ve got to keep it straightforward. The horse trams are key. We’ve got constraints as we want to keep the horse trams, either in the centre of the road or at the side of the road.
‘The other issue is to try to keep as much parking as possible. But that does limit what we can actually do.’
His predecessor Mr Gawne, speaking on MT-TV said: ‘I was very clear we should not waste money, we should not waste taxpayers’ money. And this is clearly a waste of taxpayers’ money. I said to the department and the engineers that there was no way we were going to do a temporary two or three-year resurfacing, wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds.
‘If that’s what they want to do, fine. As a taxpayer I’ve a right to feel aggrieved because it is a waste of money.’
A spokesman for the Department of Infrastructure said: ‘It was accepted that any temporary resurfacing would only last about two years. There seemed little point spending money on a short-term fix when the department had submitted a planning application for a reconstruction scheme.
‘Those plans were turned down and with no approved design currently in place, Minister Harmer asked for the northern end of the prom to be resurfaced as the highway was in an unacceptable condition.’