Ascension Island/Airhead Road
|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||3.5 miles (5.6 km)|
Ascension Island Government
This route is generally the main road out of the island Capital of Georgetown. However, both ends are rather odd. The start, if you ignore any potential TOTSO points is on Long Beach to the north of the town. There is even a 'Welcome to Georgetown' sign board and 20 limit shortly after you join the tarmac! In reality, the start point of the islands most important road is the pierhead, where all seaborne traffic arrives on the island. Again, if you ignore the possibility of TOTSO junctions, the far end of the route is probably the former NASA station. However, this is very much a side road, and as such described under NASA Road. Finally, the route as described below from Georgetown to the Airport is marked as Gannet Road on the OS map, although the name doesn't seem to be in common usage.
There are many roads in the small town of Georgetown. The most important starts at the pierhead, where a large car parking area can be found in front of warehouses and offices, home to customs, the shipping office and other government bodies. A left turn immediately leads past the fire station, on a very poorly surfaced route, and around to the parking area for Long Beach. A right turn leads to housing. The main road climbs up a ramp, with a retaining wall alongside, to the 'town centre', home to the few shops, and post office. Here a right turn leads to Fort Hayes and the island museum. Beyond this, a stop line is reached - there are very few give ways on the island, and to the left is the road down to Long Beach, whilst turning right heads out of town.
Opposite the junction is the island police station and court house, with the Obsidian Hotel behind on Old Mountain Road. Turning right, the road leads past the main Government Building, also home to the bank, and then the Conservation Centre. A right fork leads past the Hospital to Dead Mans Beach. A pair of speed bumps ahead take us out of town.
Georgetown - Wideawake
The speed limit rises to 30 and then 40 as we leave the town behind, climbing steadily as we go. A short while later, signs warn of dangerous bends and a dangerous junction, with the speed limit dropping to 30. This is the turning onto Hogans Bypass, constructed to relieve the narrow and reasonably steep Old Mountain Road which is now one way into Georgetown. The speed limit soon rises to 40 again, and in reality traffic volumes and road design mean that the drop in limit is rather unnecessary, and would be unlikely in the UK.
A short straight run leads us into Cat Hill, the American base on the island. A proliferation of US, LHD Ford and Chevy pick ups line the road, although the number of US citizens on the island is minimal - most of the residents here, and indeed staff at the US base are Saint Helenians, locally known as Saints! There are three right turns leading into the base, with the middle road being providing an alternative, less well surfaced but shorter, route to the airport. The main route continues along the northern edge of the settlement, with a 20 limit and speed bumps to prevent any attempt at speeding. A steep climb then takes us out of Cat Hill and past the open-air Catholic Church on the right, before reaching a major junction.
The road markings are faded, but signage suggests that the main route sweeps left, forcing us to TOTSO onto the Airhead Road. This then winds around some distant buildings, before passing through the perimeter fence and dropping down to another stop line. This is with the alternative route down from Cat Hill. The road then crosses below the very end of the runway, and so passes into a confusion of roads around the airport. This is also the RAF station, and very much an industrial complex, where the roads are lined with palm trees!
Maps suggest that the road continues around the turning area for the planes (the road is at the rear edge of the concrete apron), and on towards the Wideawake Fairs - lava flows home to birds - to provide access to the south of the island. However, the whole area around the airport gives the feeling that you really shouldn't be there, and indeed signs seem to warn against taking this route. Three roads fork off to give access to radar stations etc, but the main public route deteriorates into a dirt road near the rubbish dump.