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Feb 21, 2008

City Council will pave Albert and Regent

Story PictureIt’s been talked about for years by politicians of every party persuasion … but come a week from Monday, residents of Belize City—particularly it’s motorists—should wake up to a new look on two of downtown’s busiest streets. News Five’s Marion Ali hit the pavement this afternoon.

Marion Ali, Reporting
The deteriorating state of Albert and Regent Streets will be reversed when these vital arteries are resurfaced next weekend. It’s a project that Deputy Mayor and Councillor responsible for Streets and Works, Anthony Michael says has been a long time coming.

Anthony Michael, Deputy Mayor
“With a very unfriendly Central Government at the time we were unable to get the money. You’ll remember the problem we had with the head tax from tourism, but now with a more friendly U.D.P. Central government a lot of our projects could be materialised.”

But getting the job done will take a little bit of patience from the public.

Anthony Michael
“We are planning, working out with the contractor on course with the Police and the Traffic people to have Albert and Regent Street totally closed at nine thirty at night, that’s on the twenty-ninth of February and have it reopened first Thing Monday morning for vehicular and pedestrian passing.”

Marion Ali
“So what will the work include?”

Anthony Michael
“The work will include the total resurfacing of Albert and Regent Street. The process will be known as a “hot mix” resurfacing. The thickness will be almost three inches in some cases because of the dips and everything that have been on the street for so many years. In some areas tapering it off on the side we’ll have probably an inch and a half in thickness.”

But the logic behind the new surfacing has to do with much more than just its smooth finish.

Anthony Michael
“Basically the reason for that type of street is because first of all we have to take into consideration the durability of it. It is guaranteed for far longer than chip and seal, which you have to resurface after two or three years depending on the amount of vehicular traffic. This is far, far much stronger. We think about the time. If we do chip and seal it’s basically digging up the entire street, putting on new clay and sand and paving and that will take a long, long time and we are cognizant that businesses need to open to make money. With this type of premix within one weekend the entire street will be done. On Monday it will look beautiful and the entire business and people could come back to normal working.”

But while people are looking forward to a much-improved circuit, the Council is looking to Central Government to foot the bill. Currently negotiations are being finalised with a local contractor to carry out the work for eight hundred and fifty thousand dollars. This, according to Michael, is even cheaper than the traditional chip and seal which would have cost around a million dollars a mile. The resurfacing will start from in front of the Belize Bank right up to the Government House and back around to market square.

Coupled with the street upgrading will be the transformation in the coming months of the historic Battlefield Park in front of the Supreme Court building, to accommodate the street side vendors of Albert and Regent Streets.

Anthony Michael
“We want to see how we can do a two storey and create parking there, but certainly it is one of the major projects that we are also looking at. But I don’t think that will be coming on stream within the next two or three months because the drawings and final plan and stuff have not yet been finalised, and the funding.”

Marion Ali
“So these people will be placed inside the park to sell?”

Anthony Michael
“That is correct. What the plan has right now is some small gazebos that have proper bathroom facilities, proper running water, security and everything. So the vendors won’t be parked on the side of the street, which will allow for parking and better flow of vehicular traffic.”

All those comforts will come with a price tag, however, in the form of a small monthly fee which the Council has yet to finalise.

Reporting for News Five, Marion Ali.

Michael says when the roads are completed the Council is planning to revive the annual cycling criterium that used to be held around the Albert and Regent circuit.

A problem more difficult to solve than the state of Albert and Regent Streets is that of the city’s ever increasing quantity of garbage. According to Deputy Mayor Michael, some innovative ideas should soon begin to produce results.

Anthony Michael
“We are in constant negotiations with the sanitation companies right now in terms of working. Rather than doing two days on northside and southside, let’s do three days on northside and southside. If you listen to our elders who have the experience and everything, a lot of the elders say in the old days a lot of the garbage used to be picked up at night. So Councillor Usher has decided to implement a night crew so at night when the garbage is being taken out and the businesses are being closed we will have a night crew going around and cleaning up. So in the morning you will see less garbage on the streets.”

Marion Ali
“Will the contracts have to be revisited as a result of this?”

Anthony Michael
“That is something that the council is looking at under the stewardship of Mayor Moya. She has indicated that and the Council is in agreement and we are prepared to sit down with the business community along with the sanitation companies and join partnerships and see how we can solve this problem once and for all.”

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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