Southern Belize has been made more accessible by the construction of a brand new $2.2 million bridge in Middlesex at mile 21 on the Hummingbird Highway, which has been open to the public for use since June of this year.

The bridge has restored all weather access on the Hummingbird Highway and was officially inaugurated last Tuesday, December 21.

The project was funded with a grant from the European Development Fund through the Belize Rural Development Program.Halcrow of London designed the bridge and Cisco Construction built it.

The project execution unit in the Ministry of Works supervised and monitored the project which was completed on schdule and within budget.

Works ministry Chief Executive Officer Cadet Henderson said the bridge has a historic significance, as it was a part of the old railway system that had been in place since 1907.

In 1982 the original bridge was replaced, but it was not galvanized. The main span of the old Middlesex Bridge had a short life span and was actually rated as the worst, most unsafe bridge in the country.

Henderson said the Ministry of Works did not have the funds at the time to replace the bridge, so a prop, a temporary support, was inserted under the middle of the longest span.

The new bridge is a major rehabilitation, as all the existing supports have been kept and more were added. It will be low maintenance, since it has no exposed steel elements other than the hand rails.

In the past, the Middlesex Bridge was often an obstacle to the free flow of traffic. The once low level timber bridge would be submerged whenever the river was in flood, which posed a problem for the heavy trucks transporting crude oil and citrus and any other cargo going south, especially if the Coastal Road were flooded.

The Reporter