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Minister urges drivers to take extra caution as roads are ‘in a state’ due to trenching work

Inadequate: trenching has left many of the island’s roads in poor condition (File photograph)

Drivers are being asked to take extra caution on roads that are “in a state” and “inadequate” because of extensive trenching work.

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, made the plea in a statement in the House of Assembly yesterday morning.

Colonel Burch also reminded motorists that the condition of much of the island’s routes – which have been dug up to enable electricity supplier Belco to upgrade underground cables – was only temporary.

He said: “The state of the roadways can simply be surmised as inadequate – to put it bluntly.

“We acknowledge that these infrastructure projects have contributed to the issues as the temporary asphalting after trenching work has been uneven, but it’s just meant to be that – temporary. It has never been the intention of the Government to leave our roads in this manner.

Report a pothole

In a Q&A session following his statement, Colonel Burch urged motorists to report potholes to his ministry.

He said that he was aware of every pothole on the roads between his Southampton home and Hamilton – his regular commute – and often pulled over midway through his journey to report a new pothole sighting.

He said that any damaged stretches of road could be recorded on the website potholes@gov.bm

“It is surprising to me that with all the complaints about the state of the roads – people are still driving recklessly and when their vehicle is damaged they are looking to government to pay for the repairs.

“Drivers need to slow down and drive more cautiously generally but more importantly during these times.

Colonel Burch said that trenching should be complete by the end of next summer.

“Now that most projects are nearing their respective completion, the Ministry of Public Works has commenced with the permanent asphalting of the areas that the trenching works have been carried out – which will ultimately lead to smoother roadways,” he said.

“Those residents that travel throughout the Harrington Sound Road area will have noticed the final asphalt reinstatement beginning on Fractious Street, Wilkinson Avenue and Harrington Sound Road.

“The project will continue to see final asphalting up to Flatts Village over the next few months.

“Regarding other areas that continue to or have been affected by these infrastructure repairs, the ministry is currently solidifying the 2023-2024 paving schedule and once confirmed, I will update the public accordingly.“

Colonel Burch did not reveal the cost of the project, but said that $100,000 had been set aside for asphalting in the 2022-23 Budget. He had previously stated that the cost would be split between the ministry and Belco.

He said: “I reiterate – yes, these infrastructure projects are inconvenient for all and for that, we apologise for the tiresome burden of having to spend a little extra time waiting at the trench work traffic lights.

“However, these improvements are critical and if they are not undertaken, the island would be facing unexpected power blackouts and the potential for whole segments of the island to lose power for extended periods due to failures of the aged underground power infrastructure.

“We are nearing the end. As I have said in my previous statements – 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’s remarks were echoed by Wayne Caines, the president of Belco.

In a statement, Mr Caines, who is also a PLP MP, said: ”At Belco, we understand these upgrades are causing delays and frustration for motorists.

“However, these upgrades are critical to ensuring a more reliable and adaptable grid that will serve us for many years to come and enable the addition of large-scale renewables to be interconnected with the grid.

“On behalf of our entire team at Belco, I would like to ask for the public’s understanding and patience as we complete these critical infrastructure upgrades that will ensure more secure energy for Bermuda and are instrumental as we progress in our journey towards a sustainable energy future.”

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Published November 19, 2022 at 7:48 am (Updated November 19, 2022 at 7:48 am)

Minister urges drivers to take extra caution as roads are ‘in a state’ due to trenching work

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