Less resurfacing of roads is planned in the coming year
Government has drastically reduced the amount of road resurfacing it aims to do each year, according to Opposition MP Grant Gibbons.
He raised concerns in the House of Assembly after Public Works Minister Derrick Burgess said the highways section of the Department of Works & Engineering previously set a goal of eight kilometres a year and planned to do just six in the coming financial year.
The Deputy Premier said during a debate on his Ministry's 2011-12 Budget that 7.52 km of roads were resurfaced between April 2009 and March 2010 and 5.2 km between April and September 2010.
“In 2011-12, the highways section plans to resurface six kilometres of public road,” he added. “This is a further reduction in road resurfacing works and will result in reduced expenditure.”
The highways section has an estimated budget of $8.6 million budget for 2011-12, compared to $8.8 million this year, which pays for road resurfacing, cleaning, maintenance and looking after private roads.
Dr Gibbons said: “I'm on a bike and over the last few years I have noticed the quality of the road surface has been deteriorating.
“Eight kilometres actually works out to less than five miles a year. Remembering way back, the goal was to do ten percent of the road length every year. There are about 140 miles of road in Bermuda, as I recall.
“I don't know whether that [target] was met on a regular basis or not but that's basically three times what we are looking at here.”
The Shadow Education Minister asked: “Is less than five miles road resurfacing a year sufficient to maintain the quality of our roads or are we deferring the maintenance so we have a more serious problem at some point?”
Health Minister Zane DeSilva said: “I disagree with this honourable member. I do not think that our roads are deteriorating at all.”
The PLP politician said he travelled to islands south of Miami and found their roads in a far worse state.
“My opinion is that our roads are in pretty good nick.”
Mr DeSilva said he believed the highways section “currently asphalts anywhere from 10 km to 15 km a year”.
Dr Gibbons said: “That's not what the [Budget] book says. The goal is eight and they haven't met that.”
Mr DeSilva then said he believed between six and 15 km of road was resurfaced each year.
Referring to what Dr Gibbons had said, Mr DeSilva added: “He said the goal in the nineties was to do 14 miles a year. If they ever achieved that, I'll take my hat off. I think history will show they never approached that.”