Belize to get funding to fix major coastal highway

Vehicles driving along the unpaved coastal highway in Belize. (Photo: politecnica.it)

Belize is to benefit from a US$79 million project that will improve access to social services and economic opportunities for 1,700 residents along the coastal highway in La Democracia, a mainland village that is located in the Belize District.

The Coastal Highway Upgrading project is being funded by the United Kingdom and Belize governments, as well as the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

“The Coastal Highway Upgrading will improve access to social services and economic opportunities for 1,700 residents along the road.”

— CDB’s Director of Projects, Daniel Best

The project is intended to improve upon the current unpaved roadway which traverses mostly low-lying terrain and has poor drainage, making it impassable at certain times of the year. Climate change is exacerbating the risk of flooding in the area.

“The Coastal Highway Upgrading will improve access to social services and economic opportunities for 1,700 residents along the road, while incorporating enhanced safety for 2,500 drivers and passengers every day, in addition to vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists.

“A paved and raised road with improved bridges and better drainage will make the corridor more climate resilient and reduce significantly time lost through road closures due to flooding,” said CDB’s Director of Projects, Daniel Best.

The 59-kilometre (km) upgraded Coastal Highway, linking the George Price Highway to the Hummingbird Highway, will reduce travel distance by 45 km and journey times by more than an hour between the northern and southern districts of Belize.

The project is funded by a US$36.6 million loan from CDB; a US$34 million grant from the United Kingdom government through the CDB-administered United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Fund (UKCIF); and a US$8.6 million contribution from the Belize government.