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Mar 5, 2014

Busy artery converted into a one-way street has residents up in arms

Mayor Darrell Bradley and the Belize City Council are days away from celebrating two years in office. And for City Hall it will be a celebration, boasting one hundred and four completed streets and several successful infrastructure projects including the spectacular B.T.L. Park. So you would think the Mayor would be floating on a sea of goodwill and glad tidings. But it hasn’t been an easy ride. The phrase ‘progress brings problems’ might be old and clichéd, but it is also tried and true. Right about now, the Mayor and City Hall are in the Sixth Street black book. On Saturday, operators and commuters on and around that major artery were given the unwelcome news that the wide, recently cemented street is now open only to one way traffic. To put it nicely, they’re not happy. Mike Rudon was on Sixth Street today and has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

Even before we conducted one interview, we were able to get a sense of the mood on Sixth Street. These one way only signs, we were told, have been painted over, replaced, and painted over again…in just the past three days. This big, wide cement street has become a major artery in the residential King’s Park Area. In just the past year or two, at least two major supermarkets, medium size stores and towering apartment buildings have made Sixth Street their home, taking advantage of steadily increasing traffic. But now that traffic has slowed down significantly, because on Saturday, March first, City Hall directed that the street would now be one way only. The outcry has been immediate.

 

Kerry Sandoval

Kerry Sandoval, ORLZANIV A/C Service

“It affects a lot of business because customers usually come, take this way to come in…but right now it affects us because everybody has to go all the way around to come check the business…”

 

Reporter

“This just started Saturday…you all done deh see the effect?”

 

Kerry Sandoval

“Well as you can see in the yard…it’s peel…so we done deh see the effect…this noh deh work out.”

 

Today traffic officers were on duty to turn back motorists and cyclists who have not gotten used to the new street rule. People are not happy, and the traffic officers on duty have been getting an earful. One of the most vocal protests is coming from K-Park Supermarket. The owners have made significant investments recently, but now they claim that their dividends will be cut.

 

Dinesh Keshwani

Dinesh Keshwani, Manager of K-Park

“This sixth street wasn’t designed for a one way street. That will affect our business and right now we have a lot of competition on grocery stores and up the street they open a new supermarket, a big supermarket. I have two parking lots…we have no problem with parking. I have one parking lot over there. I have a parking lot in front of K-Park and I have a parking lot on the other side.”

 

With the new rules, there will be no customers for these businesses coming from St. Thomas, a major boulevard which is heavily trafficked. Customers will now have to divert on smaller streets and approach from the other side.  K Park’s manager, Dinesh Keshwani feels that with so much competition, people will just go to other supermarkets rather than endure the hassle. Since Saturday they have started a petition which will be delivered to City Hall.

 

Dinesh Keshwani

“We had some letters that we wrote to the City Council, and we dropped off some letters to the City Council on Friday – twenty to twenty-five letters we dropped.”

 

Reporter

“So a lot of the customers have been complaining?”

 

Dinesh Keshwani

“Yes sir…cause they have to take a big round to come to K-Park, and they don’t want to come to K-Park afterwards, since they do it one way street.”

 

But while sentiment is strong, there is some good news, or possible good news. Mayor Darrell Bradley says that the system has been implemented for only one month. At the end of that month, three things can happen. One, the system will stay as is…two, they will change the direction of the one way traffic flow or three…they will revert back to two way traffic. Bradley says they are just trying to find a way to deal with congestion before somebody gets hurt or killed in traffic.

 

Darrell Bradley

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

“The difficulty with Sixth Street is that that is a street which is heavily congested. We had taken a decision to concrete the street and we have improved the infrastructure there and we see that the problem has gotten worse because sometimes people take the completed streets as racetracks. What we see on that street is that there is a heavy congestion of businesses and the street has no sidewalk and no bike path. It has a school that is located right at the corner and it presents a clear and eminent danger to the public and we are very fearful that there will be an accident there sometime. What we are doing with this decision in terms of making the street one way is that we have decided to put this in place for a month period to assess whether or not that has some impact in easing the congestion along the area.”

 

Kerry Sandoval

“I noh see no reason for that. The street is wide, but what they should do is just control the parking…no double parking. You see this double parking…that shouldn’t happen. Just mek people park on one side then it can still go two way.”

 

Darrell Bradley

“I will readily accept that that is a real criticism and the city has major problems and weaknesses in enforcement. The problem is that we cannot station any traffic officers there for any prolonged period, we can’t do that. So that what we try to do in many cases…they is why we favour roundabouts…it’s a situation that needs very little involvement in terms of the enforcement of physical personnel. We cannot afford to place one or two traffic officers there for any continuous period of time. The reality is that even if you make it alternative parking, what we are trying to do is to assess the need in the area. There are a lot of businesses in the area and they need double parking, so whatever we do in many decisions, like what we did in the downtown and other areas, it’s going to cause inconvenience to some person.”

 

Commuters and business owners we spoke to say that one of the big problems is the school at the corner of St. Thomas and Sixth Streets. The Mayor agrees that that is a real concern where traffic congestion is concerned, and he has tried to talk to the Ministry of Education about that. So with that said, the unhappy Sixth Street club will just have to wait out the month. But on a positive note, the Mayor says that all input will be factored into the final decision. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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3 Responses for “Busy artery converted into a one-way street has residents up in arms”

  1. Lord LOL says:

    I don’t have a problem with this.

  2. CEO says:

    Good move Mr. Mayor.

  3. Natalie says:

    Check with the businesses and residents, if they are in agreement or have suggestions, before u make a step like this that will affect the livelihood of individuals.

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