Swing Bridge Brittle
And moving from that bad street to the oldest bridge in the city, - the mayor says the Belize City swing bridge is in perilous condition.
Now, we've reported lots on the repairs to the bridge's pedestrian walkway, but that was just cosmetic. Underneath, the bridge's structure is in a STATE.
The mayor and his works councillor discussed it today:
Bernard Wagner - Belize City Mayor
"That bridge is in a dire straits of disrepair. It needs urgent attention. Again, we believe at the Council that has to be a collaborative effort from the Council and Central Government and other NGO's and IDB. This is a good project for the IDB, rather than the Apollo Street. But it is something that how can you be talking about down town rejuvination, have all these projects lined up for down town rejuvination but have nothing in there to rejuvinate the Swing-Bridge? That is an area that we are looking at very closely to ensure that the main there is that the safety of the residents is always at the fore front of any decision that we make."
Albert Vaughan- City Council Works Portfolio
"We know the state of the Belize Swing bridge. I went there the other day and I called to see how is my insurance because you know, you can actually feel the vehicles, with the rust and the shaking. Somebody is going to get killed on that bridge. You know, it is terrible."
Jules Vasquez"Sir, in the near term, will there be additional repairs and will William Arthur Lindo be contracted?"
Bernard Wagner"I can't comment on that right now but based on the needs and the safety of the residents, anything could happen."
THE BELIZE CITY SWING BRIDGE: SHOULD WE RETIRE THE OLD PATRIOT?
by Albert Vaughan
This morning I visited and went under the Old Belize City Swing Bridge the oldest and only hand operating Bridge probably in the world....these amateur pictures taken does not do justice to condition of this old lady which I believed is over 100 years...the conditions also exposed the neglect of the past council which had and wasted millions of PetroCarib money at their disposal,the Downtown own Rejuvenation project which is now renovating old Government House and building other tourist project in downtown area and of course GOB that is wasting billion of tax payer dollors....The burden of the safety of the Old Swing Bridge is on the Belize City Council ....This council must pettition and engage citizen in bring this issue to the forefront before grave danger happens....GOB must be engage as the Old Belize City Swing Bridge is a national icon ....
I was reading Albert Vaughan's post yesterday about the Swing Bridge and it had me thinking. I see the Old Bridge similar to a public servant, they serve the people, some for a few years and some for many; however, like many public servants, if you serve long enough, you get to retire with a pension. That is your reward for your years of service.
The Old Swing Bridge has been serving British Hondurans, Belizeans and countless tourists for 98 or 97 years depending when you started to count (installed in 1922 and became operational in 1923). Two to three years from now, she will become 100 years old. If she was a human, she would be suffering from a bad case of arthritis and osteoporosis. Even farmers that have mules, horses and donkeys that have served them for many years, put their beast of burden out to pasture after a while.
With timely and proper maintenance, who knows how long the old Swing Bridge would have served us. Maybe if she had gotten timely repairs, she could have served us for another 100 years, but that did not happen. Now might be the time for us to grant her her retirement so that she can live her last few years in peace and quietness. I am not sure how much more pounding she can take. Sometimes, even when you love something or a person, you have to give them up when it is in their best interest.
You know, we had a similar situation with the Old Fish Market many years ago. They tore it down and distributed the pieces all over the place. Today, no one knows where those pieces went. Yes, it may have been a sore eye for some people, but it was one of our historical heritage assets. We can do it differently this time with the old Swing Bridge. We can retire it, but still save it for many generations to come. I am in the believe if we don't retire it now, we may lose it altogether.
Maybe it is time to part with the old, preserve it, and bring in a new era. We have had four bridges connecting the north and south sides. Maybe it is time for a fifth. Yes, I have been beating around the bush when I started this post, but now I have said it. It is time to retire that old public servant that have survived two tsunamis and millions of vehicles. Her structure which has been corroded can't take it anymore. Do we really want to continue to do little quick repairs and prolong her suffering?
If we replaced her, what would we do? Well, it is time to install a new modern bascule bridge. This is the type of bridge that crosses the river at Belchina. What would we do with the Old Lady? Well, we can do two things: the first is, since we don't want to disregard her because she is an important historical heritage asset, we could repair her and move her about three hundred feet upriver at the Hyde’s Lane junction where we could use her for only pedestrians and bicycles; or, a second option, is to turn her into an interactive museum by placing her in one of those open lots on Marine Parade (maybe where the old Hospital was located). We can build a small old Belize Town (Vendor booths) around her, shallow river and everything. Repair her so that tourist can then go on her and turn her using the manual operation mechanism. I think she would love it!
PS: I am doing a Poll on whether we should retire the bridge or not on the Belize City House of Culture and Downtown Rejuvenation Project's Facebook Page. If you want to log your response participate in the Poll.