Bittersweet traffic changes - Boost for old Melrose Hill Road businesses as yam park goes on life support
Business owners located on the old Melrose Hill Road in Mandeville are hoping that the diversion of traffic to the area - to facilitate works on the Williamsfield to May Pen Leg of Highway 2000 - will provide them with some economic benefits, even if it is temporary.
Starting on Sunday, eastbound traffic - heading from Mandeville towards May Pen - will be diverted from the Melrose bypass to the old Melrose Hill Road. Vehicles heading towards Mandeville will use the Melrose bypass, which is being converted into a one-way for up to seven months.
The construction of the Melrose bypass had left many businesses along old Melrose Hill Road on life support, but the ongoing road project has given these business owners some amount of hope.
"I have been here for more than 20 years, and is since the road change (the creation of Melrose bypass) business go down, and then COVID. If it is even for seven months, I wouldn't mind more people passing through. We have better roads now, and that will encourage people to come in," said shop owner Sidonie Afflick.
Sections of the old Melrose Hill Road were recently paved to accommodate increased traffic. Ras Potter, who has been operating a pottery business in the area for more than 40 years, said that increased traffic could mean more sales for him.
"You may have people who never have knowledge of what go on round here, and when them pass they will see," he said.
The potter, however, said that he is not reliant on increased traffic flow, but rather the Almighty to provide for him.
"All if the best nuh come when the road opens up here, you cyan give up hope. I man, within I self, have to make it the best because I man have to trod ... Nuh care how you see the tunnel dark, when you look down to the end, you see a little light a peep through," Ras Potter said.
On the other side of the hill, however, vendors are worried about the impact that the traffic changes will have on their businesses. Vendors at the Melrose Yam Park indicated that the inconveniences of the development are hitting them where it hurts - in the pocket - and are they are left to figure out how to maintain their clientele, despite the rerouting.
"We just have to try manage the best way we can. They say one-way traffic up and we just have to try work with it. I hear that people start set up yam stalls on the Old [Melrose] road and we are worried, but we have to do what we have to do," said Shelly McLean, a vendor at the yam park.
McLean said the since the reopening of the park last December, following the four-month long closure by the Manchester Health Department, things have just started to pick up.
"We had the Easter season and we are going to the summer. You will find that more people coming from overseas to support we, but we will only be getting the traffic going uphill now..."