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Coastal Plain Highway inaugurated

HeadlineCoastal Plain Highway inaugurated

by Kristen Ku

GALES POINT, Belize District, Thurs. July 6, 2023

The dust has settled, the tar has cooled, and a new era for transportation and economic development is unfolding in Belize with the highly anticipated inauguration of the Coastal Plain Highway.

The task of upgrading the highway has involved the rehabilitation of approximately 36 miles of roadway that connects the George Price Highway to the Hummingbird Highway.

This once rough, sometimes almost impassable terrain is now a climate-resilient, fully paved, crucial lifeline connecting communities and strengthening commerce.

The grand inauguration ceremony took place on July 6 at the Gales Point Junction, Mile 23, and was graced by esteemed guests and key figures who played instrumental roles in realizing this project, including Hon. John Briceño, Prime Minister of Belize, and the Deputy Prime Minister Hon. Cordel Hyde.

Development partners were also represented at the inauguration, including the Caribbean Development Bank and the FCDO UKSIF Team, who awarded a grant of close to 30 million euros to fund the project, further cementing the strong ties of international collaboration that are paving the way to Belize’s brighter future.

Previously known to locals as simply “the coastal road,” the transformed Coastal Plain Highway is being hailed as an exciting transition for the region.

Not only does it offer an alternative route to the south, but the refurbished highway is also expected to bring significant logistical benefits and tremendous economic opportunities across various sectors.

“Thank you to our international partners, our regional partners, the Ministry of Infrastructure, and the contractors, thank you; but let me thank the government of Belize for this beautiful and wonderful project which makes our country smaller. We’ll be able to get to the south quicker. And when we see the road being used, and everybody using it coming through, it will help our country to develop in the Plan Belize model,” praised Gale’s Point Constituency Representative, Hon. Dolores Balderamos Garcia, encapsulating the sentiments of the crowd.

Plans for the future were also highlighted at the event. The Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing, Hon. Julius Espat, revealed an upcoming proposal to implement a toll system on this road for heavy equipment. A special provision would allow local small vehicle users to pass without costs.

“It’s been done internationally, and the profits we are hoping to use to maintain the road, to clean the side of the shoulders. It’s a lot of money. We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly trying to maintain the shoulders,” Espat said, emphasizing the importance of sustainable maintenance.

Prime Minister, Hon. John Briceño also expressed his enthusiasm over the achievement. “I think it’s a milestone. It’s a road that belongs to all Belizeans. I think they will be able to enjoy this and make Belize smaller because of the network of roads, and also to improve commerce and tourism for the south and the rest of the country,” he said.

An important point regarding the potential expansion of bus routes was also discussed at the event.

The Minister of Transport, Hon. Rodwell Ferguson, said it was expected that a bus route from the South through the Coastal Plain Highway and on to Belize City would be established.

Hon. Ferguson explained the significance of transportation in driving the economic growth of a country. “Every country, especially every developed country in the world, their key development is a road network and proper transportation. And that’s why, when I became the Minister of Transportation, I’m trying my best to insist that transportation makes an economic goal,” he said.

He added, “Definitely, they will have to have a bus route from South to Coastal to Belize City. Nobody has applied as yet, but once a person comes in, the Board is going to look at it.”

With the inauguration of the Coastal Plain Highway, Belize ushers in a new chapter of economic resurgence and community growth.

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