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Oct 19, 2017

BIL’s Mea Culpa: Hot-Mix Couldn’t Save Sinking Lake I Boulevard

Still on the issue of infrastructure projects…. it was intended to be a centerpiece of the giant Petrocaribe spending program – worth removing squatters, clearing out bushes and splashing cash.  But the Lake Independence Boulevard project, which cost three-point-two million dollars, has instead become a monument to failure.  The primary problem is that the hot-mix placed on the road failed to hide that it did not have a proper base structure, causing parts to sink unevenly. After trying multiple patches, Belize Infrastructure Limited has been forced to admit defeat, and says it will start over.  But what exactly happened?  News Five’s Aaron Humes revisits this project.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

His explanation was far more technical, but the Ministry of Works’ chief engineer Avondale Moody was clear to the press on Wednesday as to why the Lake Independence Boulevard is falling apart and who ultimately is responsible.

 

Avondale Moody

Avondale Moody, Engineering Consultant

“In my mind, the failure is a design failure, it’s not a construction failure. Why? Because the hot-mix was adequate but the layer underneath, which is your pavement layer, was inadequate. So that is the reason why that section of the road is failing and it will continue to fail.”

 

Reporter

“Who designed it?”

 

Avondale Moody

“BIL, I think somebody from BIL did it. It wasn’t my design that was used.”

 

Reporter

“But the role that you played in it, I mean just for clarity’s sake…”

 

Avondale Moody

“We did an overall design for the entire scope of works.”

 

Reporter

“But you gave your recommendations and they didn’t follow it?”

 

Avondale Moody

“Exactly. Somebody else came in and did another design and reduced the pavement thickness. That is what is causing the failure.”

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow concurred.

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow [File: October 18th, 2017]

“I would want to suggest that you speak to Ms. Mastry who is the C.E.O. of B.I.L.  I have spoken to her, because Mr. Moody gave me the same version of events to which he has treated you this afternoon.  Ms. Mastry has her explanation, and more importantly I did press her on what’s going to be done to fix what has gone wrong.  I will certainly say to her, and I am sure the minister who’s co-chair of B.I.L. will do the same, that there has to be a full accounting given to the media and to the public with respect to the failure that obviously has taken place in terms of that Lake-I Boulevard.”

 

B.I.L. C.E.O. Christy Mastry conceded that they felt the hot-mix done by RJB Construction would make up the difference from the six feet of fill placed at the site by the Ministry of Works as the original base – in part to save money.

 

On the Phone: Christy Mastry, C.E.O., Belize Infrastructure Limited

“I think that what engineer Moody said is something that he and I, we both agree on. He and I never had a meeting; in fact we never personally met to discuss the road… But we’re coming back to the same contract – the hot mix or the concrete topping in many of the different roads was going to make the difference for the sub-base underneath. And the budget that we had allocated was only three million for that road, and it’s so much wider, like I said, than you are seeing. And the truth of the matter is that we engineered with only eight to twelve inches of fill – hard-core mix underneath, and we should definitely have gone for the larger budget to excavate the clay which tends to be a very unpredictable material underneath the bed, just because of when it’s wet and when it’s dry, it tends to shrink and expand unpredictably.”

 

While Mastry says the adjoining sidewalks and other works have held up, talks continue as to what happens next with the road. But it will more than likely involve a complete blow-up and re-do – and some more funding.

 

On the Phone: Christy Mastry

“Ultimately, we believe we can look at doing an additional topping on top of that road, to try to use what is under there to lay and stabilize; but another very good and probably better solution will be that we will excavate – we’ll use that material that we will excavate which is now very hard material, because the crushing and the hot-mix allowed for a lot of very hard material, and we need additional hard fill for the additional roads that will end up in that site, as we saw that another short road now accessing the Lake Independence Resource Center that was all used with a  combination of coarse [inaudible], hard-core and all-in. And so the material we excavate is absolutely salvageable, won’t have to be trucked in, we’ll have it there, and then we will have to replace the base and put the topping back on. All said, we’ll probably be in a ball park in what would be a five million dollar budget, which was initially what we thought the road would cost if we were to have done the deeper sub-base. So we haven’t wasted that material, we won’t waste that material; we’ll try to keep a minimum of what we put on balance sheet, but like I said, we can salvage a lot of that material for some of the sites that we know have to be prepared if we’re going to do the bus terminal and many of the other projects we are looking at for the area.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

No timeline has been given for any works in the area.

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