Concerns Arise Over Replacement of Joe Taylor Bridge in Punta Gorda
Several residents of the Punta Gorda area have expressed several concerns over the planned replacement of the Joe Taylor Bridge in that municipality. The Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing announced that civil works to replace the bridge will begin early next month which will result in the removal of the bridge. While the Toledo Chapter of the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) supports the need for improvement, its President, Denis Garbutt has expressed concerns, and is requesting a meeting with officials from MIDH.
Denis Garbutt, BTIA President (Toledo): “On the 4th of October we had a meeting with Minister Anthony Mahler, Minister Mike Espat, Minister Requena along with the mayor of Punta Gorda. At that meeting the Joe Taylor Creek Bridge development and the pavement was raised by myself. In that particular meeting it was made known to us that the design was not yet out for people to see and we have requested that we see the design and we have public consultation and public meeting before the actual construction. However that press release stated that there will be commencement of the construction of the dismantling and construction of the Joe Taylor Bridge in early November. That is of major concern to the tourism sector here, the people of Punt Gorda Town and by extension the Toledo district that that will inconvenience us in terms of going all the way around to the Carib Reserve through Eldrige area. It’s gonna be a lot of setback for us. We’re asking for urgent meeting with the Ministry of Works so that they could give us an alternate route so that we could have the students, the teachers, the workers that live in Hopeville and nearby communities like Cattle Landing and Stuff to be able to reach to Punta Gorda Town.”
The works on the Joe Taylor Bridge are expected to take some fifteen months, and will require motorists and pedestrians to utilize the Carib Reserve Road as an alternate route. According to Evondale Moody, the Engineer Coordinator, they will do their best to minimize the period of inconvenience, they do not have any other choice but to close off the area.
Evondale Moody, Engineering Coordinator, Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing: “We’re gonna try and see how best the contractor could minimize the time for us to construct that bridge. However we anticipate that because it’s the only entrance into Punta Gorda Town we will have to reroute traffic to use the Carib Reserve alternate route for them to go inbound and outbound from Punta Gorda. We’re aware it’s gonna create some nuisance in terms of the traffic movement but because the structure has to be built on line there is no alternate route for us to utilize and it’s difficult for us to build a diversion where that structure is located because it’s too close to the sea and also due to the fact that we have to build a pedestrian crossing to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.”
Reporter: That was the best route the Ministry was able to identify ?
Evondale Moody, Engineering Coordinator, Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing: “Yes. From our assessment that would be the best route for alternate traffic to utilize. I know they were asking about a temporary pass but the only temporary pass that we could build for that structure is for pedestrians and cyclists. We cannot build another structure beside the existing one because of the space and the cost that we would incur to build a temporary structure for another fifteen months. We’re already spending $2.3 million for the new structure which I believe is long overdue however the idea is that we want to utilize the same alignment that is there so that we don’t have to incur additional costs in terms of the roadway. So from our review we believe that utilizing that route, which the ministry will also assist in maintaining that Carib Reserve route as best as we can for the duration of the project. We believe that that is the best route for us to use right now.”
The current Joe Taylor Bridge will be replaced with a precast reinforced concrete triple span bridge, measuring a total of twenty-five meters. The work is being done at a cost of two point three million dollars.