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Jan 7, 2015

Chetumal Street Bridge: A Timeline to Completion

It is not officially open yet, but traffic is already traversing the Chetumal Street Bridge in Belize City that spans the two highways; Phillip Goldson and the George Price thoroughfares. The estimated cost to build the bridge is a cool four point five million dollars, according to contractors, who also say the structure is one hundred percent Belizean. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The construction of the Chetumal Street Bridge, connecting the Phillip Goldson and George Price highways, epitomizes the proverb “progress brings problems”.  The platform is not officially open to vehicular traffic but it is already in use by hundreds of motorists who traverse the span daily since its completion in mid-December.


Francis Woods

Francis Woods, Cisco Construction Ltd.

“The bridge has been unofficially opened, it certainly lets traffic through but there’s a lot of construction happening on the Chetumal Street side and the Lake Independence Boulevard side.  So we’re just keeping it quiet like that.”


While the finishing touch to the multimillion dollar project is being kept mum about, viewers would recall the uproar in June 2011 when squatters on the other side of Haulover Creek were forcibly removed and their houses demolished by Ministry of Works employees.  That scenario culminated on BelCan Bridge with an all-out confrontation between residents and police officers.


Rene Garbutt

Rene Garbutt, Squatter [File: June 1st, 2011]

“I didn’t know at first that I needed to be three hundred yards farther to build my structure. My structure was already built, not entirely to live in but it started out where it’s costing me at least five thousand dollars where it’s at. The structure next to me was torn down and that house was beautiful. It was made nice and costs at least fifteen thousand dollars, you know, and these guys just came and demolished that.”


That was a little over three and a half years ago and the construction of the bridge and its adjoining access have since realized a spike in real estate value along Chetumal Street where employees of Cisco Construction are busy concreting the approach.


Isani Cayetano

“What is the timeline more or less for this work to be completed?”


Francis Woods

“Well the project that is ongoing is the section between the bridge and Albert Hoy Street and we’re doing the drains right now.  We figure within three months we should have it complete and they’re working on, I know Ministry of Works is reviewing and doing the design for the other section going to the George Price Highway.”


Prior to works commencing in the vicinity, the project was met with mixed reaction from residents of Belama Phase Two.  While some in the predominantly upper middle class community were fearful that the bridge would allow criminal elements from one side of the city onto the neighborhood, others were glad that their commute would be considerably reduced.


Irvin Nicholas

Irvin Nicholas, Resident of Belama Phase 2 [File: May 17th, 2011]

“It is a blessing for me because I have a son that lives at four and a half miles on the Western Road and to go to him I’ll just cross the bridge and reach there. Now I’d have to go way around and go that way right. If I’m visiting my next son that lives in Port Loyola I would zip over and I go.”


At an estimated cost of roughly four and a half million dollars, Francis Woods says the Chetumal Street Bridge is a hundred percent Belizean effort.


Francis Woods

“The one thing I always like to talk about is that this bridge is one hundred percent Belizean.  It’s really designed in Belize, all the beams are built in Belize.  Everything about it is Belizean and it certainly has increased safety a lot.  It’s noticeable that there is not as much traffic on Central American Boulevard and that’s where it really got hectic and safety is a concern for all the pedestrians, all the kids going to school.  A lot of heavy vehicles are using this one already and a lot of traffic so it’s very convenient.  The work is continuing and there are little pauses in transition between jobs but a lot of the folks that worked on this bridge are already working on culverts and other projects that we have ongoing.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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