After years of neglect the Ministry of Works and Transport has revealed plans to carry out major improvements to both the George Price and Hummingbird highways.
In May 2013 joint funding was provided by the Caribbean Development Bank and the Government of Belize to enable the formation of the Belize Road Safety Demonstration Corridor Project. Â One of the first visible results of this development is the announcement of a major upgrade to both the George Price and Hummingbird highways. Â The Hon. Rene Montero, the Minister of Works and Transport, recently signed a contract with Dr. Nabeel Abdul Raheem of Co-Active Funds; the organization awarded the contract for carrying out initial design work.
The Minister of Works and Transport said: ÂToday, it marks a very important milestone for the infrastructure in the development of our major highways in Belize; today we witness the signing of the design of the Hummingbird Highway with the Co-active Funds (itÂs a grant). Â ItÂs actually scheduled for 11 months.Â After that, we will request funding for the implementation of the design of the feasibility study and the design of the project.Â
The George Price Highway, which was constructed in the 1930s, was known as the Western Highway until being renamed in 2012. Â George Price, who was the first Prime Minister of Belize, died in September 2011. Â The road runs from Belize City, all the way to Benque Viejo on the border with Guatemala and the improvements will be carried out in three phases; Belize to Belmopan; Belmopan to San Ignacio and San Ignacio to Benque Viejo.
Considered by many living in Belize to be the most scenic road in the country, the Hummingbird Highway runs from its junction with the George Price Highway at Belmopan to the coastal city of Dangriga. Â Traffic on this road has increased substantially in recent years with the growth in eco-tourism in the region. Â Despite the fact that new bridges have been constructed across the Siburn River (2004) and Silver Creek (2006) there are many streams and creeks with single lane crossings that are in urgent need of replacement.
Mr. Montero also took the opportunity to announce his intention to seek additional funding to upgrade the Coastal Highway; also known as the Manatee Highway, which runs from the Western Highway to Stann Creek Valley, near Dangriga. Â This road currently has a gravel surface that is susceptible to being washed out during the rainy season.