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Motorists face years of road work disruption, minister warns

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Motorists face years of disruption as “painful” road works stretch ahead, Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the public works minister, said yesterday.

The Minister told MPs that trenching projects being carried out with Belco were needed but would cause inconvenience.

The Government has formed a partnership with the energy company to replace the high-voltage underground cable network across the island.

Belco said that nearly two thirds of trenching was completed but the project would extend until the end of 2023.

Colonel Burch also warned of the “painful” impact for motorists as wastewater works are carried out.

Motorists can expect up to three more years of disruption on the roads. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

He told the House of Assembly: “Many in the East End will be well aware – need I say ‘painfully aware’ – of the work being carried out by the Bermuda Land Development Company (BLDC) with the upgrading of the water and wastewater infrastructure in St George’s and St David’s.

“The areas include trenching works taking place from Mullet Bay Road to Echo Lane in St George and various spots on St David’s Road in St David’s, including Coopers Landing Road and Southside Road.

“With all this said, I wish to prepare the public for what they should expect for the year to come,” said Colonel Burch.

“They should expect another year of traffic lights and trenching, then another year or two of paving, but after that the majority of the work will be completed and the value gained will be substantial.

“It was always the goal of the project to do all this work at once, to inconvenience the public once and to hopefully not have to disturb these newly paved roads for the next ten to 20 years.

“We also recognised that this would create significant economic activity in the country at a time when there was a slowdown – thus also creating new jobs with virtually every trenching company in Bermuda getting some work.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

“While I can empathise with the motoring public that the long queues and waits have been challenging at times, I want to stress that it is vital for this work to take place and that we are doing all we can to minimise the impact.”

Colonel Burch pleaded for restraint from drivers.

He said: “I again ask for the public’s patience especially when waiting at traffic lights as we have seen several accidents caused by people running the red light.

“Please take note of the updates on the paving works that we will endeavour to provide more frequently this year, so you can plan ahead, make alternate routes or just leave a littler earlier than usual.”

A Belco spokesperson said: “Once the trenching work has been completed and new cables have been installed, the Ministry of Public Works highway section will then come behind and repave the road.

“Trenching is approximately 65 per cent complete and will continue until the end of 2023.

“Belco is replacing 40 per cent of its current underground transmission cables that are over 50 years old.

“Nearly 25 per cent of our cables have served Bermuda for over 60 years.

“These cables and other transmission and distribution assets are well beyond their useful lifespans, causing a higher number of faults, system vulnerability and higher maintenance costs.

“Belco’s transmission project is an investment of approximately $50 million.”

Colonel Burch insisted the projects were needed.

He said: “This critical work involves trenching, the laying of new cables and conduit in the main roads.

“I also want to highlight that not only is the aged Belco infrastructure being replaced, but Public Works is also taking advantage of the trenching works to install new water mains and telecommunication conduit wherever feasible for future use.

“The most expensive cost of placing utilities underground is not the conduit or pipe, but the trenching and road reinstatement that comes afterwards.”

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Published March 22, 2022 at 1:37 pm (Updated March 22, 2022 at 1:37 pm)

Motorists face years of road work disruption, minister warns

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