Tue | Jun 2, 2020

Rockslides threaten work crews, motorists in Portland

Published:Tuesday | February 25, 2020 | 12:24 AMGareth Davis Sr/Gleaner Writer


Motorists have been urged to exercise caution when driving in the vicinity of Charles Town in the Buff Bay Valley as continuous rockfall is impacting that section of the Portland thoroughfare.

The rockfall, which includes boulders, triggered the suspension of clean-up activities conducted by the National Works Agency (NWA) and private contractors.

Councillor for the Balcarres division, Rohan Vassell, told The Gleaner that from early as 4 a.m. Monday, regular rockslides had continued despite remedial work done earlier by Portland Western Member of Parliament Daryl Vaz.

“More than $16 million was spent to carry out extensive blasting of the hillside to remove loose rocks and boulders. A large area of the hillside was also meshed, so as to catch falling rocks and other debris. But since the earthquake on January 28, rocks and boulders have been tumbling down quite frequently,” said the deputy mayor.

“Yesterday (Monday), the roadway was cleared four times, however, with the ongoing rainfall, which has saturated the hills, rocks are tumbling down at an alarming rate. We have contracted an additional tractor to assist with clearing the road surface, but motorists also need to obey the warning signs and to be cautious.”

Early yesterday morning, a team from the NWA managed to clear the roadway of rocks and other debris, but were forced to suspend clean-up operations as the safety of work crews came under threat.

Meantime, a press statement issued by the office of the MP indicated that additional funds would be secured to ensure that heavy-duty equipment remained in the area to assist with clearing the thoroughfare once it is safe for work to resume.

Up to press time, the area was still blocked, as persistent rainfall contributed to further rockfall.