BELMOPAN, Belize – The construction phase of major improvement to the essential arterial route that links Belize City to the Mexican border has officially gotten off the ground.
Representatives of the Government of Belize, the Government of the United Kingdom (UK) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) on Tuesday broke ground to officially mark the construction phase of the US$59.9 million Philip S. W. Goldson Highway and Remate Bypass Upgrading Project.
The work, which is expected to run until late 2023, includes road realignment, culvert construction and replacement, and improvement of pavements and junctions on 125 km of road. In addition, sidewalks, bus shelters, and pedestrian crossings will be installed.
CDB’s Vice‑President (Operations), Isaac Solomon said the Bank’s 2016-2020 Country Strategy for Belize identified this project as an important intervention for modernizing the road network, improving communication, safety, and resilience, and contributing to increased competitiveness and productivity.
“The implementation approach integrates the cross-cutting themes of gender equality and environmental sustainability. The project is also expected to contribute to Belize’s achievement of its Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.
The CDB said the upgraded roadway will enhance connectivity, accessibility, and the resilience of the road network in Belize, and some 55,000 daily road users will benefit from improved road safety and reduced travel times. It added that the construction phase is expected to generate increased economic activity for the 45,000 residents of Corozal, Orange Walk, and other northern communities.
The project will also support the development of livelihood opportunities for residents in the project footprint and will help to tackle the risks around gender-based violence and human trafficking through public education and communication, the CDB said.
British High Commissioner to Belize, Claire Evans was pleased to see the Philip Goldson Highway and Remate Bypass Upgrading Project break ground, the second of the UK’s grant-funded critical highways to be upgraded.
“Working in partnership with Belize and CDB, these road improvements will deliver substantial social and economic benefits for the country,” she said.
The road upgrade project is being partially financed by a £16 million (US$20.9 million) grant from the Government of the United Kingdom, under the UK Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF) which is administered by the CDB. The Bank is providing US$34.4 million in loans and grant funding for the project and the Government of Belize has allocated US$4.6 million.
The CDB said the initiative marks the continuation of its interventions in Belize which have benefitted several sectors including agriculture, public utilities, housing, health, and education. However, it noted, its largest investment has been in road infrastructure improvement.