In a decade of what some may call inactivity and decaying infrastructure, Mayor Darrell Bradley is adding his personal touch to the city’s landscape. Instead of constructing unsightly signs with names of donors, as has been done in the past, the mayor is concreting streets that have fallen apart. The ongoing work which has to be done in conjunction with Belize Water Services, has led to a maze for some residents to drive from one road block to another. But earlier today the mayor outlined his deadline for completion of these projects as well as the start of new ones.
Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor
“The major stumbling block right now in terms of traffic flow is Freetown Road. I thinkt hat a lot of the gridlock is caused as a result of lot of the works on Freetown Road and some of the minor roads can’t handle the amount of traffic. Essentially, the project on Freetown Road is supposed to be finished—the main part of Freetown Road will be finished by next week Friday and that road then will be completely open. Another area of disturbance would be caused because the Freetown Road Project calls for the resurfacing of the roundabout. And we are looking at designs and putting additional traffic officer out there because when that work starts—and it should start within the next week—when that work starts it will not be disrupted. At the present moment, the main area of Freetown between the roundabout and St. Thomas; a section of that road is closed and that is one of the main arteries of the City. That of course, naturally, will cause disruption. That is supposed to be open by next week Friday. But when we go on to the roundabout then that again will cause another mishap. That will take about fifteen days for us to complete along with the Northern Highway project. Then we also have another project that we are working with along the stretch of Princess Margaret Drive; in front of the Princess Hotel. We started works at the intersection of Barrack Road and Newtown Barracks. And that project is to go all the way up to where Bowen and Bowen now has their new restaurant. And essentially what we want to do is either concrete or stamp-crete that road and enhance it for tourism purposes. And we are going to go all the way around Princess Margaret Drive and to meet up to the Northern Highway roundabout. But we are not going to do the whole road, we are only going to do those pockets that are very bad and we are going to upgrade that with ordinary concreting. And then one of the other projects that we starting to accelerate and talk about in great details. When we do this Princess Margaret Drive Stretch, then we will also incorporate the beach that we had always talked about doing. And that area should be substantially enhanced with the road and with a new public space which will be the B.T.L. Beach now.”
The City Council also intends to put to use the overpass at the junction in front of the flag monument.
Traffic congestion caused by months of street work by City Council
Street works around the City, have been causing delays in traffic for months but this morning, trying to get to work, school or almost everywhere else, was absolute madness. The rerouting of a main thoroughfare backed up traffic significantly. Carla Bradley reports.
“If you were traveling from Central American Boulevard towards Freetown Rd or from Phillip Goldson Highway, you may have noticed vehicles backed up as far as the eyes can see. That is because a part of Freetown Road has been blocked for renovations and traffic had to be diverted to Princess Margaret Drive.”
With vehicles bumper to bumper in all directions near the roundabout at the northern entrance of the city, motorists will have to live with this frustration three times a day. Taxi cab drivers are among those who are up in arms with the rerouting and traffic jams.
Voice of: Dave Sutherland, Belcan are taxi cab driver
“Well it affected mih business big time mein because from since this staat, wih mek money but no kinda money weh I use to mek. Deh behind beg time.”
“Did you know about the road work before it happen?”
“Yea yea dem mih announce it. it is good, I know progress brings problem but when you dih tek lik financially, it mek a difference ina yo life.”
“So do all the taxi drivers share the same sentiments?”
“Same sentiment. As a matter of fact dah piece ah highway deh dih do infront of the taxi stand ova deh neva mih need fih touch none at all, dat noh even mih have not even one hole no. But maybe dem know why dem do it like dat.”
So while the taxi cab drivers have being hit in the pocket, delivery truck drivers are also losing time and money.
Aaron, Delivery Truck Driver
“Well, it really affects us because we tend to most of the shops here in the city and it kinda makes our job more difficult especially for the guys that unload the truck. We tend to have to park more farther from the places; we have some stores that we cannot get close to. It really affects us because we work on a time basis noh and it takes us more time to carry out our job, it slows down our pace.”
With the rerouting of the traffic, potholes in the streets have now craters. But the Belize City Mayor says it is a work in progress.
Darrel Bradley, Belize City Mayor
“Well I think what we are trying to do is we are trying to be much better in terms of traffic management. We’re doing completion work on Freetown Rd, they are going to do a part of St. Thomas Street and Cleghorn Street so that the areas where B.W.S. had had to do some interruptions in the infrastructure, we are going to repair them totally. We are also going to do the roundabout; what we’ve done there is that we have deployed traffic officers as early as six-thirty in the morning through peak hours during the day, so in all areas where we have major street infrastructure going on, we’ve tried to see how we could reflow certain streets, so that its double way when it use to be one way and we have a lot more traffic officers available, we have more detour signs, we are using the contractors also to participate in terms of traffic management.”
The Mayor’s projection is that street works will be completed by December of this year so commuters will have to bear just a few more months before traffic can return to normal. Reporting for News Five, Carla Bradley.
If you do business or live in the area of Chetumal Street, you would want to plan accordingly because that street will be closed off next week.
Transforming Belize City - 41 Streets and counting; A Beach is in The Works...
Under the leadership of Mayor Darrell Bradley, Belize City is undergoing an impressive, never-before-seen transformation. Nearing to the 1-year anniversary of the elections in March of 2012, the Belize City Council has been able to have either begun to pave or completed as many as 41 streets across Belize City. This week, the work on one of the major streets neared completion; that road is Freetown Road, which is a major artery coming into Belize City. A couple of weeks ago work started on Chetumal Street, and the work there has advanced considerably beginning first with the construction of a drain system. Work on the street itself has commenced in earnest with the street being closed off to vehicular traffic.
Another major thoroughfare being completed is New Road with finishing touches being put in place. Those include the lining up of the street, expansion of the sidewalks and improvement of the general aesthetics of the street having been improved.
According to Mayor Darrell Bradley, work is now being moved to other areas of the city, particularly in the Lake Independence area where the paving of a number of streets will begin shortly. More than just paving of streets, Bradley says that the initiative of the Belize City Council is one which will stimulate economic activity as well as job creation. As it is, the paving of streets is being done in a manner such that it promotes economic activity in the city. Added to that are projects that will augment the vision. The painting up of the downtown area for example is a way to make the area more appealing to tourists visiting the city. Plans are also underway to construct a beach at the BTL Park in the Newtown Barracks area. There is also a plan to develop a vacant lot on North Front Street near to City Hall to be able to accommodate tourists who traverse the area. That development will feature kiosks for various persons to set up businesses in the area.
Mayor Bradley also noted that plans are also underway to transform the downtown area of Belize City into a Freezone to encourage tourism and in turn economic activity. Already, the painting up of the area is a step towards that.
All in all, the entire city is going through a transformation that, within the next year, will be clearly visible to both those who live in the city and those who visit.
The infrastructural work on Freetown Road has taken quite a few weeks complete and it has caused a few street closures on other arteries leading to and from that thoroughfare. Before we can all enjoy a fully resurfaced Freetown Road and surrounding streets, motorists will have to endure another bit of inconvenience. That section of North Front Street, from its junction at Mapp Street to Douglas Jones Street will be closed as of Monday. This means if you need to get to the Farm Centre, Quality Poultry Chicken or anywhere along that stretch on Monday, its best you park on Mapp Street or anywhere past the Belchina Bridge and walk. The Belize City Council will publicize when that portion of North Front Street will be open again to vehicular traffic.
Belize City residents are just recovering after Freetown Road was closed in different areas for construction and piping work that lasted three months. It's finished and the concrete surface is great, but are you ready for another major artery to go under the cement scalpel?
Today, a portion of North Front Street was closed to traffic: that's the area from Mapp Street to the corner of Bel China Bridge. According to the Council PR representative, the process won't take as long as Freetown Road. In fact work is expected to be concluded in a week's time:..
Kenny Morgan, PR - Belize City Council "The continuation in the street improvement project we have sealed the portion of North Front Street from Mapp Street to the junction with the Bel-China Bridge. Half of the Bel-China Bridge remains open so that the north and south side traffic can access the opposite side. The portion of the bridge approach from North Front Street going from North to the South side will be closed temporarily."
"We have been in conversation with the contractors and they have expressed their desire that if the weather permits the work along that area should be done within a week at the most. That's what they are looking at. We are hoping that Mother Nature permits us to move as expeditiously as we can and immediately thereafter we'll be working on the other phase. We are getting ready now to link up two projects on North Front Street. If you notice the work here in front of the City Council is proceeding at a very nice pace. The contractors are getting ready now to work on the drainage component of that project. The servicing of the street is almost totally completed, so they are moving along quite nicely and we are anticipating that within the next month or so we should have both sides linking up somewhere in the area between Hydes Lane and Pickstock Street."
During construction work, only half of the BelChina Bridge will be accessible to traffic. So far the council has worked on 50 streets and plan to complete one hundred streets by the end of the year.
And there is a new project the Belize City Council is working on. It is the lighting of the overpass at the Belcan roundabout. Since the council has removed the pedestrian crosswalks when they cement-paved the first 100 yards of the northern highway, pedestrians are now forced to use the overpass for their own safety. But as another safety method, the council will be lighting up the overpass area for pedestrians. Here's what you can expect in a weeks' time.
Kenny Morgan - Public Relations Officer, Belize City Council "The overpass situation, I must say, we have to thank Belizean citizens. They have expressed their desire to do the right thing, and I am sure that listeners and viewers have seen the heavy traffic that is now going across the overpass from morning until evening. We've very pleased to announce that we've gotten the bill of quantities for the lighting of the overpass. We've supposed to take possession of the materials no later than by tomorrow afternoon. So, I think that we should see work started out there. Our electricians are standing by. The workmen have already been prepped for it, and we should see work starting on the lighting of the overpass itself by Thursday, midday at the latest. Again, we want to commend Belizeans for abiding with the laws. We still have a few persons who insist on going around the barriers, and endangering themselves and drivers by attempting to cross the highway, which is a practice that we would still want to see people desist from. But for the most part, the response has been warming, and we would like to very much express our appreciation to the public for understanding and going along with us with the little inconveniences."
Work will start by mid Thursday and the installations of the lights are expected to be completed in a weeks' time.
More city streets to be under repair; commuters to pay inbound toll
The Belize City streets are undergoing major repair works but that is the source of frustration to motorists who have through a maze to get their destination. As part of the Belize City Municipal Bond a number of streets have been resurfaced and, in most cases, completely rebuilt. While the total number remains on the rise Mayor Darrell Bradley is setting his sights on another project which he hopes will generate much needed revenue for the city but will put a dent in pockets of vehicle owners. In the upcoming weeks the section of the Phillip Goldson Highway, from the Flag Monument to the approach to the Haulover Bridge, will be fully concretized which may mean that the artery connecting the north side and south side may be closed to vehicular traffic. To finance that project however, commuters will be required to pay an inbound toll. Mayor Bradley told us more about the upcoming endeavors.
Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor
“We are doing significant upgrades in terms of the street construction project which is funded by the Belize City Municipal Bond and at present we are at, the count is at fifty streets. We hope that we would be at a hundred streets by December of this year. We have significant works going on in the Lake Independence Area. We’re on Oleander Street, Tibruce Street, Jasmine Street. We have several other works going on in that area, [on] Monday we’re going to start Lawrence Avenue, which is a street I know that’s dear to your heart. We’ve just waited anxiously for BWS to move off the street. They’ve given us the sign-off on Friday so Monday Maheia’s Construction will go in there and they will commence their works. They are already doing preparatory works and we want to continue to move aggressively so we are on target to be able to accomplish our goal by the end of the year. We’re going to see a lot of major projects being unveiled in the very near future. We are meeting, we’ve already done the preliminary work, the financial and feasibility studies to be able to concrete the Northern Highway from Haulover Bridge to the Flag Monument and that’s a project that we mean to get started within the next six weeks. It requires a lot of planning, a lot of surveys. They are consulting in terms of the drainage and where the water will flow so we had hoped that that project would have been started already but the technical specifications are being developed and what we mean to do is we’re going to fund that through a revenue bond. We have proposed in our manifesto some sort of commuter tax and essentially what we are looking at if we can do something like a toll along the Northern Highway which will be an inbound toll, a one dollar inbound toll and that toll itself would fund the whole restoration of that project.”
Mayor Darrel Bradley talks about infrastructure works
BTL park upgrade
The Belize City Council, under the leadership of Mayor Darrel Bradley is perhaps the most progressive administration in recent times. And while there have been many complaints about the inconveniences caused by sometimes unannounced street closures to facilitate cementing, by and large most people are starting to see the big picture. That of a city transformed. One transformation that is a part of the bigger picture is happening on Newtown Barracks. And that where Love TV’s Patrick Jones and video journalist Brian Castillo met and spoke with Belize City Mayor Darrel Bradley this morning.
Mayor Bradley says he hoped to have at last sixty streets fully cemented by the time he celebrates his first year in office next month.
And while the Dangriga Mayor is fighting against the ever advancing Caribbean Sea in an environment gone haywire, Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley is trying to keep pace with an unprecedented rate of street paving.
The City has paved 56 streets, but like mother always said, haste makes waste, and more than a few contractors have been forced to do re-do's. Evergreen Street behind BWSL and Southern Foreshore are monuments to rough-shod patch up jobs, but Freetown Road has been under the most scrutiny. That's among the most heavily trafficked streets of the lot that's been paved and today we saw a team taking core samples from a patch of concrete that had already been re-done.
We asked the Mayor about it:
Darrell Bradley - Mayor, Belize City Council "We had required the consultant - the contractor on Freetown Road to remove 3 sections of the road. That has been done, and we're doing testing currently to make sure it meets the minimum requirement for the PSI. Of course when we did the design, that street had to be 6 inch thick and it had to be a minimum 5000 PSI. The 3 sections that we've tested, did not meet the minimum PSI requirements, so we're hoping that when we do this test again it will pass the 5000 PSI, if not then we will require them to change it again."
Jules Vasquez "In the interim, you all still have retention percentage for them."
Darrell Bradley "Yes, all of our contracts we keep a retention and the last payment is only paid over, when the city engineer signs off that the work has been completed to our satisfaction. Freetown road is not completed to our satisfaction and until that's the case, we will keep that retention."
According to the contractor M and M Engineering, the specifications the mayor speaks about were developed after he signed the contract to pave Freetown under, agreed-upon different specifications. He says he will have the core samples independently tested and certified.