Ask Belize Infrastructure Limited (BIL) why, says PM Barrow
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Oct. 19, 2017–Lake Independence Boulevard, which links the Philip Goldson Highway with the George Price Highway through the Chetumal Street Bridge, cost taxpayers an estimated $4.5 million. It has not been a shining example of sturdy, efficient engineering. Since it was officially opened for vehicular traffic in 2015, it has been resurfaced several times.
So, who is to be held accountable?
According to Evondale Moody, an engineering consultant attached to the Ministry of Works, it is the Belize Infrastructure Limited (BIL), a private company owned by GOB, that is responsible for what he coined, a “design failure”. During Wednesday’s press conference regarding the reconstruction of Fabers Road, Moody explained that he was initially a part of the project.
“In respect to Chetumal Street and the Lake Independence Boulevard, yes, I was involved in the detailed design of the entire boulevard, including the two roundabouts,” he said.
He added, “However, after we had implemented the two roundabouts, the bridge, and the section of Chetumal Street from Albert Hoy [Street] to the bridge, we had only filled from Chetumal Street to Fabers Road. The reason why we only filled that was because we had recommended to the government that it needs to consolidate before you pave it. We placed approximately 6 feet, 1.5 meters of fill from Chetumal Street from Fabers Road and we stopped. Our reasoning and rational was the area is swamp…”
Moody said that at that point BIL took over the project, and everything went downhill. “I think BIL took it over, and that was out of our control because we decided that we were only going to focus on the roundabout and the bridge. However, when BIL took it over, from a professional standpoint, they came in and they excavated the fill that we placed, which was wrong,” he said.
He explained, “The reason why we placed that fill was because we wanted that material to consolidate, we wanted it to settle and reach a level that is adequate. They did not do that. They went in and they cut out what we did, almost to the geogrid layer, and then placed only, I think it was 6 inches of road-based material. And then they placed the hot-mix on top.”
According to Moody, the problem is that the area cannot handle the vehicular traffic. “If I go back to the iteration process for the design of pavement, it goes back to the same two key factors: CBR, which is the strength of your sub-grid, and traffic loading. The traffic loading is causing the problem now, because the vehicles are numerous in number and the pavement that is there cannot handle it,” he explained.
Moody said that he had issued the original design of the Ministry of Works, but the BIL did not follow through with it, and so it was a design failure.
“In my mind, the failure is a design failure, it’s not a construction failure. Why? Because the hot-mix was adequate, but the layer underneath, which is your pavement layer, was inadequate. So that is the reason why that section of the road is failing, and it will continue to fail,” explained Moody.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who also commented on the failure on Wednesday, requested that the media speak to Christy Maestre, the CEO of BIL. “I think a sort of scab has been lifted with respect to that portion of road that unfortunately is failing. I would want to suggest that you speak to Miss Maestre, who is the CEO of BIL. I have spoken to her because Mr. Moody gave me the same version of events to which he has treated you this afternoon,” said Barrow.
He continued, “Miss Maestre has her explanation, and more importantly, because I did press her on what’s going to be done to fix what has gone wrong, I don’t want to try to recount what was said. I will, therefore, ask you and any other member of the media to pose these legitimate questions to her, and I will certainly say to her, and I am sure that the Minister who is co-chair of BIL will do the same, that there has to be a full accounting given to the media and to the public with respect to the failure that obviously has taken place in terms of that Lake I Boulevard.”