Tuesday, May 28, 2024

SPTC revised proposed bridge fees and presents new rates

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The recent announcement of the upcoming monthly bridge fees to access the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge had many islanders up in arms and confused, pointing out that the proposed prices were too high given the island is still trying to recover from the economic effects of the pandemic. In view of these concerns, the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) revised the fees and on Wednesday, August 4th presented the updated fees to use the bridge.

The monthly prices initially proposed were utility/dump trucks-$500, taxis/hotel transport vans-$350, private motor vehicles-$150, and golf cart rentals-$250. This price is per golf cart/vehicle. The new adjusted monthly prices according to the SPTC are, taxi/hotel transport vans/small cargo trucks is $150, while golf cart rentals will be charged $250 covering a total of 15 carts and $50 for an additional ten carts. In regards to the private motor vehicles/goods trucks the monthly fee will be $75.

The only rate that did not change was the one for large vehicles such as dump trucks, which will remain at $500. Mayor Gualberto ‘Wally’ Nuñez mentioned that a discount will be available for those paying a yearly fee.

The rates will go into effect on August 15th, and do not apply to private golf cart owners and motor bikes.

Mayor Gualberto ‘Wally’ Nuñez shared with The San Pedro Sun that he understood the concerns, particularly from taxi drivers and golf cart rentals, who claim they do not cross the bridge daily. The Mayor indicated the fees collected will go towards the maintenance of the bridge, which continues to undergo repairs. The further repairs needed now require around BZ$600,000 to rehabilitate the bridge. According to Nuñez, millions of dollars were collected from the bridge toll by the previous administration, and those funds seemed to have been misappropriated. He believes a new bridge could have been built by now if there would have been proper accountability. The ultimate goal from the SPTC is to be able to build a second bridge that will accommodate heavier vehicles, like dump trucks, utility vehicles/goods trucks and the hotel transport vans and any other large vehicles.

The current bridge was originally built only for golf carts and motor bikes. The town, however, have grown rapidly without expanding its infrastructure at this important crossing point connecting the central and southern part of the island with the northern side. With no other bridge, the current and only structure has been put under severe fatigue as large vehicles filled with construction material cross the bridge every day. This type of traffic is considered to be responsible of the ongoing wear and tear of the bridge. Therefore the need to start charging fees and keep the bridge usable until another one is built.

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