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#429207 - 02/01/12 02:54 AM STUDY CONDUCTED ON BELIZE’S HIGHWAYS
Marty Offline
Belize has one of the highest number of fatalities caused by road traffic
accidents in Latin America/Caribbean. The Ministry of Works has
commissioned a study on Belize’s highways and roadways.

Marion Ali, Reporting...
“The sobering image that punctuates the miles 27/28 location on the Western
Highway bears a constant reminder of the high number of fatalities as a
result of road traffic accident. And today that reality was placed on the
front burner at the George Price Centre in Belmopan when those who deal
with traffic regulations and make the roadways safer discussed the very
factors that cause traffic accidents. The Ministry of Works commissioned
the International Road Assessment Programme, to conduct a study on Belize’s
highways and roadways. IRAP then commissioned the Midwest Research
Institute to conduct the coding of the road attributes and to determine
which of the highways are top priority thoroughfares. And according to
Senior Executive Engineer with the Ministry of Works, Graciano Medina, the
main focus is mainly infrastructure and there is already one stretch of
road being considered.

Graciano Medina, Senior Executive Engineer, Ministry of Works
“In particular we can say that the Western Highway from Roaring Creek to
Benque Viejo is one of our most critical highways that needs a lot of
attention.”

Julio Urzua, Reg. Dir., IRAP, Latin American/Caribbean
“We are going to give the Government a package of suggestions for them to
implement. Some of them are related to widening the shoulders and paving
the shoulders that is very important; others are related to what we call
the road side friction, we would like to have a program here of eliminating
the friction long the road. This means that when you run off the road you
are not going to hit a tree or a pole or some hard object.”

Graciano Medina, Senior Executive Engineer, Ministry of Works
“We will need to determine which one is first again based on funding.”

And while the studies mainly deal with improving the current road
infrastructure, there is an equally urgent need to address. With road
traffic accidents claiming more than 70 lives each year, the issue of the
human element – that is motorists simply ignoring traffic laws is
imperative.

Julio Urzua, Reg. Dir., IRAP, Latin American/Caribbean
“In terms of number of fatalities per vehicle and number of fatalities per
population, it is very high in comparison to other countries. In fact it is
one of the highest rates in the region including Latin America. This is
because of a number of factors and I would say three factors in particular,
one is the human behavior, you have drivers who are speeding as we found in
our studies, we have heard alcohol is also a problem, we did not do a study
on that but the interviews with people and the conversations say that,
pedestrians behavior, pedestrians that walk across the street that cross in
places that there are no facilities also play a big role and bicyclists
that don’t use any reflective garments, etcetera.”

While the study, which started in October of 2011 had identified the
Western Highway between Roaring Creek and Benque Viejo del Carmen, the
government will have the final say on which portion of Belize’s road
network will get attention next.

LOVEFM

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#429234 - 02/01/12 02:20 PM Re: STUDY CONDUCTED ON BELIZE’S HIGHWAYS [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Many road deaths; International Program assess roads

A UK based firm has conducted a survey of road conditions in the jewel. It found what is probably already known; that the road conditions are not optimal and lack safety features. The International Road Assessment Program also found that the number of deaths on the highways is high and says it will make recommendations on how to improve safety conditions. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

Traffic accidents are all too common, especially on Belize’s highways and they often result in death or serious injuries. But the International Road Assessment Program (iRAP) intends to make the roads safer. iRAP has been collecting data in Belize since September, 2011 and today it presented its findings on the road safety flaws and fixes.

Graciano Medina, Sr. Executive Engineer, Ministry of Works

Graciano Medina

“The project here in Belize kicked off five months ago with the launching of iRAP Belize so Belize is now a member of iRAP. It all began with data collection using specialized equipment; vehicles, software, technicians that came from abroad. The data collection was possible through Semic, which is a company in Mexico that provided the equipment.”

Julio Urzua, Regional Director, iRAP Latin America/Caribbean

“It covered the main highway, almost I would say a hundred percent of the paved highways. It accounts for three hundred and seventy-four miles ranging from the western Highway, the Northern Highway, the Hummingbird; all the main highways. So according to our data, we covered in this assessment the highways in which more than eighty percent of deaths occur. So if we really focus on these highways, the impact that we can make is going to be very important.”

Julio Urzua

iRAP Regional Director, Julio Urzua, says that once the data was analyzed, the roads were rated and an investment plan was developed.

Julio Urzua

“There are no five star roads and the rest of the roads are ranging from one star, which are in pretty bad conditions to four stars, which are very good roads. But I would say the most important thing is not the rating of the road because the rating of the roads with stars is a way to try to understand and compare the roads among themselves, this is not the most important part. The most important part is the investment plan. In general, the number of deaths here in Belize is around—some figures say sixty-eight deaths per year other sources of data say seventy-one people per year. The number itself says nothing, the important thing is the rate so if you analyze the number of deaths per population or the number of deaths per vehicle, it’s very high. So if we compare the figures here with other countries, Belize has a lot to improve here.”

Ministry of Works Senior Executive Engineer, Graciano Medina and Urzua listed some of the problems that need attention.

Graciano Medina

“Our highways lack a lot of safety features such as line marking, cat eyes for night driving, probably safety barriers where you have deep embankments, probably the shoulders are not that adequate for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists. So the counter measures that are being presented today goes towards improving the highways.”

Julio Urzua

“There are a number of roads that have either no shoulders or the shoulders that they have are not paved or not in good condition. So there is a big opportunity there to improve, for improvement. Secondly, I would say the delineation of the roads; there are a large number of the kilometers that we assessed, they have no delineation or the delineation is not in good condition. So this is also a very good opportunity to improve the roads. And I would say the third one which is very important as well is what we call the road side friction. What does it mean? It’s when you have objects along the road that are going to cause a big accident with big consequences for the road user if you hit them. So for example, a tree, a pole or any other hard object that is along the road.”

And while there will always be accidents, Urzua says, the safety features can save lives.

Julio Urzua

“The road is an important actor when there is an accident. So in between a good road and a bad road you can see the difference between life and death. A good road maybe is going to forgive you if you have a good barrier, if you have good delineation, if the road has a wide shoulder paved, maybe you are going to run off the road and then you can come into the road again. But if the road is not good and any of us make a mistake, maybe the consequence is going to be different. So this is what we are saying; good roads save lives.”

iRAP will present two proposals to the government; one for work on what are called demonstration corridors and another for larger scale investments. Delahnie Bain for News Five.

The project is being funded by the Caribbean Development Bank.

Channel 5


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