John Greif II Airstrip upgrade almost completed

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Work at the John Greif II Airstrip in San Pedro is slowly winding down and should be completed within the next month. The confirmation was made by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Works and Transport, Hon. Edmund “Clear the land” Castro. In December of 2010 $3.7 million was secured for the project through the Central American Corporation for Air Navigation Services (COCESNA).

The project started in January of 2011 and was scheduled for completion by July however progress was delayed several times due to weather. Speaking to The San Pedro Sun, Castro explained that works are almost completed and the new rehabilitated runway should be officially commissioned by July 2012. The rehabilitation on the John Greif II Airstrip was conducted in two phases. The fencing which was done by Graniel’s Construction and the runway and lighting by Rodla’s Construction, which were supervised by Thurton and Associates Engineering Firm through COCESNA in Belize.

A total length of 2800 feet by 46 feet of runway has been resurfaced using hot mix material that was barged in from the mainland. When officially commissioned, the airstrip will have complete fencing around the entire runway to prevent people from walking across the landing area. It will have world standard runway and pad lights to accommodate night flights especially during emergencies. The project, which started under the auspices of former Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation and Culture Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr., is important for the tourism industry in Belize. According to Minister Castro, because the John Greif II Airstrip is one of the busiest in Belize and the region, making it up to “world standard” was important. Castro said that “San Pedro has the busiest airstrip in the entire region, not just in the country of Belize so it’s very important that we upgrade this airstrip in San Pedro and bring it up to world class standards. Basically what we are doing is moving away from the chip and seal or chip and tar situation for the airstrips. We are using the hot mix. So it’s a little bit more costly but nevertheless that’s the standard now that we are trying to use on all the airstrips in the country because it will lasts longer.”

While work is slowly winding down, the full length of the runway, measuring approximately 3500 feet was not totally resurfaced. Minister Castro explained that 588 feet of runway was not included under the original plan. “That 588 feet was never part of the design however we are currently speaking with COCESNA to see if we can get additional funding to repave the additional stretch of runway,” said Castro. When asked if it was a miscalculation, Castro said that “It was not a miscalculation. It was simply never a part of the initial physical plan.” The San Pedro Sun also asked if monies from the $5.00 Rider’s Fee could be used to finance the additional 588 feet of pavement. Castro explained that the monies from the Rider’s Fee is being set in a bank account and “it will be used to secure a loan from the Social Security Board specifically for the rehabilitation of the Belize City Municipal Airstrip.

That information is somewhat different from the original plan disclosed on Thursday December 16th, 2010 when the airstrip was renamed to the John Greif II Airstrip. At the ceremony, Heredia explained that the “entire runway” would be rehabilitated to accommodate “larger regional flights.” Castro said that one of the priorities for the rehabilitation of the John Greif II Airstrip was to bring it up to “World standard” to accommodate local small carriers and not larger carriers.

With the upgrade of over 2800 feet of runway, local small carriers will be able to land without difficulties. 

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