Posted: Tuesday, February 5, 2019. 9:14 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: The public outrage over the death of a 23-year-old female teacher trying to cross the Phillip Goldson Highway this week has opened up a discussion about the safest way for pedestrians to cross this portion of the highway. Many Belizeans are suggesting pedestrian overpasses being the best solution.
On Monday, Marlena Mortis, 23, died after she got hit by a vehicle as she tried to cross the four-lane stretch of road by jumping over the concrete barricades near DK Store at Mile 2 1/2.
Her only other option would have been to take the long walk either to the pedestrian crossing located at the roundabout near the Shell Depot/Mirab roundabout or head up to the crossing at the Brodies/Scotiabank roundabout, a distance of roughly a mile when you add the going and returning trip.
Belizeans have since taken to morning talk shows and social media to vent their frustrations about the situation.
The accident even made headlines in the Tuesday, February 5th edition of the Amandala with the title “Stupidly-designed highway kills young teacher.”
The fact that Mortis is the second person to die from a lack of a safe crossing, with the first being Arturo Requena who died in a road traffic accident in November 2018, compounds the problem.
The Belize City Council explained to the media shortly after the incident that the project is under the purview of the Ministry of Works, but there has been no word coming out of the Works Ministry since the incident despite the loudening public outcry.
Hector Silva, a former Minister of Works, who worked in the early administrations of the Right Honorable George Price, was among those who suggested pedestrian overpasses, noting that it is used effectively in various developed countries.
The first pedestrian overpass in Belize was built by the Esquivel administration at the roundabout near Palotti High School. This overpass was criticized in its early construction as being a waste of money. In recent years, however, many have taken to use the overpass as a safer way to get across the area, particularly in the height of evening traffic.
The discussion on pedestrian overpasses is not going to go away soon as traffic becomes more congested in Belize’s urban centers.
Readers are welcome to post their comments on the idea of pedestrian overpasses on BBN’s Facebook page.
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