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Jul 20, 2004

Orange Walk road bypass nears completion

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Infrastructure: roads, bridges, airports, electricity, telephones. It?s the bedrock of national development. Today, as the nation?s latest highway project neared completion, News 5′ Patrick Jones explored the issue of how we can continue to keep ahead of the game.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

The scenic route, which bypasses Orange Walk Town, will give motorists the option of not having to navigate the heavily populated municipality. Minister of Works Jose Coye says it will improve efficiency for everyone.

Jose Coye, Minister of Works

?The road that is passing through the town, there is a tremendous amount of commercial, industrial traffic. For example, you have the sugar industry with the cane, and then we have a lot of imports coming from Mexico and most of our things coming from the north passes through the Orange Walk Town, and it would make good sense to try and separate the residential area from that kind of traffic. So that was the purpose of moving it to the east.?

The road begins at mile fifty-two, just north of the Tower Hill junction and rejoins the Northern Highway in Trial Farm village. It?s a twenty two million dollar project started in September of 2002, with loan funding from the Caribbean Development Bank.

The five-mile long road is being built primarily to divert the large number of cane trucks away from Orange Walk Town itself, thereby reducing congestion and minimizing the chances of road accidents involving vehicles delivering cane to the tower hill factory. But the Orange Walk bypass project is being built with the future in mind and an anticipated heavy use by regular traffic. Civil Engineer with the consulting firm Halcrow, Chris Smith says a lot of work went into this project.

Chris Smith, Civil Engineer, Halcrow Consulting Firm

?A traffic analysis has been done which gives you an idea of the number of heavy vehicles that are going to be using the road for the next twenty years. And that?s what the road has been designed for.? Depending upon that traffic loading, you have different thicknesses of construction. And as you gradually come up from the ground, it gets stronger and stronger.?

But even with that kind of engineering foundation, engineers say the ministry of works will need to carry out periodic maintenance every seven years to ensure longevity. Smith says the two-lane highway was built with a super elevated technique, guaranteed to remain open, even during floods which happen all too frequently in this part of the country.

Chris Smith

?It makes life a lot easier for the driver. As you know when you are going around a bend on a bicycle you lean over, and if a road is leaning in the same direction, it makes it a lot easier and a lot safer for you to go around that bend.?

?At he edges of the road we have v-ditches running along and discharging basically toward the rivers. And we have cross culverts going underneath, so that in times of flood, when water fills up on one side, instead of us creating a dam, it can get underneath the road through the culverts.?

While infrastructure development such as the Orange Walk bypass road is an additional burden on the national debt, Coye says it is a calculated risk that government just has to take.

Jose Coye

?We are trying to bring the people together by roads. But it is so sparse. So you find that for every mile a road in our country its only a hundred and fifty persons unlike other countries like maybe in Trinidad. They have far less miles, but one point three million. So what we are investing today as I see it in roads, which is about forty percent of our total capital outlay since we came to government in 1998 is not really to bring immediate benefits, it will be more in the medium to long term. Because we are connecting our people right across for commercial purpose, industrial purpose, health reasons, education, so that our people can be mobile.?

And that?s the plan, according to Coye. Government provides the enabling environment, economic activity prospers, and then the entire country benefits. And that formula is just what he is banking on to finance future government capital projects.

Jose Coye

?Future projects will be funded from growth. And I am saying that as the economy is growing, the whole idea behind this, is that it?s not the public sector that will generate the jobs that we need and to generate the wealth of this country. It will be done by the productive sector.?

It took just under an hour for the Minister, engineers and the media to inspect the extent of works carried out by Johnston International. And the brief visit left the minister impressed.

Jose Coye

?I think it?s an engineering feat that we should commend. And I think that we look now towards the economic benefits. So I think we have accomplished this part of it from what I am seeing here, we are getting the engineering results, we are going to see the benefits flow in the years to come.?

After two years of continuous work and some minor changes to the original plan, the project is nearing completion. Only the final mile and a half or so of road is left to be sealed after which some mopping up exercises will be done, then the project will be ready for handing over to the Ministry of Works. In Orange Walk, Patrick Jones, for News Five.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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