The US$384 million Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP), which entails rehabilitation of the 110-kilometre roadway between Harbour View in Kingston and Port Antonio in Portland, is expected to get underway in early 2018.National Works Agency (NWA) Communications and Customer Service Manager, Stephen Shaw, says the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Study, which is required for the project’s implementation, is being perused by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).He said that on completion, NEPA, the NWA and other relevant Government agencies and stakeholders, will meet to determine a date for a public forum with residents of St. Thomas, where a significant percentage of the project area is located.“That meeting should happen within 60 days I believe, and once we have been able to complete all that is necessary, insofar as NEPA’s take is concerned, and a decision taken…regarding sharing the details of the EIA study, we will be having a public meeting,” Mr. Shaw said.He was addressing residents of St. Thomas during the second ‘HOPE for Jamaica’ town hall meeting, organized by the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, at the old Goodyear factory complex in Morant Bay on Thursday, (July 13).Mr. Shaw said the project, for which the Government signed the loan agreement with the China EXIM Bank in February, will be executed by China Harbour Engineering Company Limited (CHEC).It will entail realignment and widening of the roadway to four lanes, among other features, which would require land acquisition along the designated sections.Mr. Shaw said the NWA was preparing a Cabinet submission for presentation shortly, adding that the land acquisition exercise “will start very soon.”He also advised that CHEC has submitted preliminary designs and is in the process of finalizing these documents.“We expect that China Harbour will be able to show us a final design by December. So realistically, we are looking at early next year, insofar as equipment being on the ground is concerned,” he added.Mr. Shaw noted that the project area was a significant amount of roadway “that will pretty much continue (what) started with the improvement (of) the corridor from Negril to Ocho Rios and from Ocho Rios to Port Antonio.”“So what you are going to be getting at the end…is a vastly improved road network between Harbour View and Port Antonio. A bonus in all of this, if I may call it that, is the rehabilitation of that stretch from Morant Bay all the way to Cedar Valley,” he added.