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Traffic flow over Roaring Creek Bridge back to normal after Ministry of Infrastructure Development completes elevation, extension of Western approach

Posted: Friday, March 3, 2023. 8:00 pm CST.

Photo Credit: MIDH

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The elevation and extension of the Western approach to the Roaring Creek Bridge is now practically completed by the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing (MIDH), and the traffic flow over the bridge is now back to normal.

Over the past few weeks traffic has had to be diverted through side streets in Roaring Creek and it slowed travelling to the key Cayo village that connects the West with the capital Belmopan.

That was because the MIDH was raising and extending the approach to the Raring Creek Bridge to permit traffic flow in the case of floods.

According to Rolando Chan, the Program Coordinator for the MIDH Project Management Unit, the approach was raised to more than a meter above the most recent flood level caused after Hurricane Eta in 2020 and extended from the base of the bridge by 375 metres past the area that was impacted during Hurricanes Eta and Iota in 2020.

“At the lowest point which we brought up, we increased the level that was backfilled 30 inches and then we started casting the different lanes. Of course, we had to bring up the sidewalks. We also had to raise the BEL pole plinks.

Chan said they also had to do minor works on a BTL manhole that impacted the BWS pipes as well.

“The target is for big vehicles like buses and trucks to pass even if there is a flood,” Chan said.

“Small vehicles might have an impact, but big vehicles and buses can pass without any problem. That’s the main reason for lifting the approach. Any other higher lifting would impact the residents.”

Chan said that residents near the Roaring Creek have been impacted by floods, even before the new bridge was started, particularly during Hurricane Mitch in 1998, in 2006, 2008, and in 2016 during Hurricane Earl.

The MIDH said when the new Roaring Creek bridge was built recently, the approach was built higher that the highest recorded flood level at the time, but Hurricane Eta’s rainfall affected Belize with extremely heavy rainfall between November 1 to November 7, 2020. At the time the access to the Roaring Creek Bridge was flooded higher than during any previous flood by more than a meter.

“The rains associated with Hurricane Eta caused water levels of the Belize River to rise and as a consequence prevented the Roaring Creek from discharging its flood water, creating a backflow towards the Roaring Creek and surrounding areas,” said the MIDH.

“On November 9, 2020, after the Roaring Creek receded to levels below the old bridge deck the elevation of the water mark left by the floodwater was taken and registered with elevation 34.30m at the west abutment wall and retaining walls. This level is 1.11meters above the highest historical water recorded given in the design documents of 33.19m.”

The flood disconnected Roaring Creek from Belmopan as traffic flow was completely stopped. The MIDH then sought and received funding assistance from the Inter-American Development Bank, European Union through the Caribbean Investment Facility and the Government of Belize for a project to raise and extend the Western approach to the tune of $2.260,000.

Chan said the traffic returned to normal on Monday and the only thing left to do were the guardrails and painting of the lanes. That should be completed by next week.

“We are just putting back the guard rails. We will do line marking, put cat eyes, put the yellow lines and the white lines to delineate the lanes and then do final cleaning,” Chan said.

Chan said the MIDH was also laying concrete on a small section on the access road towards the school in the area and that should be completed by this weekend.

He added that the old bridge, which was reopened to facilitate traffic flow while the extension was being done, has now been closed to vehicles but remains open for pedestrians and cyclists.

 

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