Archive for March 13th, 2014

NRA not party to road MOU

| 13/03/2014 | 33 Comments

(CNS): An FOI request sent to the relevant ministry and the National Roads Authority on Monday revealed that government did not include that agency in the Memorandum of Understanding it signed with developers regarding a potential public-private partnership (PPP) over a major public road extension. As a result of government’s silence on media requests for a copy of this MOU, CNS submitted a formal FOI request for the document, which is of significant public interest but which government seems reluctant to reveal. When we did we were informed by the NRA information manager that the authority did not hold the relevant document and referred us to the ministry.

CNS has contacted the NRA management and board as well as the ministry to ask why the roads authority is not party to an agreement in which government has committed in principle to a partnership that will result in the extension of the east-west arterial to Frank Sound. However we have received no reply from any of those contacted.

The MOU, which was signed by government and the developers of a proposed mixed use retirement community last month, has remained under wraps but it relates to the possibility of the owners behind the potential Ironwood development financing the $40 million road extension via duty waivers.

The developers have said the mixed used retirement community, resort and golf course is contingent on the road, which has already stirred significant controversy as a result of the extension's route through National Trust property, including the naturally, historically and culturally significant Mastic Reserve. In addition, the proposed community is believed to pose a threat to the fresh water lens in the area and the Queen Elizabeth Botanic Garden as the potential development borders that royal park’s land.

Despite this the MOU that government signed at a cocktail party at the Westin without revealing the contents to the public, it is understood that the deal commits government to undertaking the necessary business case studies and analysis with a view to a PPP on the road extension, which will still ultimately be paid for by the public purse.

Sources close to the NRA have also revealed that the statutory authority doesn’t consider this project a priority because besides the request from the developer, there is at present no justification to invest in that extension.

There are also now new concerns that if the east-west arterial went ahead at this time, with the arrival of the Shetty hospital in East End, the more southern route, which was gazetted in the 1990s as part of the grand master transportation plan, would be a more appropriate location for the road that the one gazetted in 2005, which follows the more northerly route, threatening the National Trust land.

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