With national and municipal elections looming in November, concrete was being poured on Roatan in what could only be described as a frenetic pace in September.
“It’s been an unusually busy season for paving,” said Edward Ake of Island Concrete, which is doing much of the work. But he said it was “all work that needs to be done.”
Ake said it was normal to do roadwork during the summer months on Roatan because that’s when conditions are best for curing the concrete. He said the work was “a little late getting started this year,” perhaps because “taxes were slow coming in.”
Traversing Roatan Municipality during the last week of September, ongoing or recently completed roadwork could be seen in numerous communities. In La Colonia, above Sandy Bay, new spurs had just been paved leading to Balfate and Policarpo Galindo, both populated primarily by relatively recent migrants from the Honduran mainland. Grading work was being completed on the road leading to Mudhole, past the municipal dump, September 23, and one lane had been covered with concrete by September 27.
In Coxen Hole, a bypass had been completed from Main Street, just above the cruise ship port, through the Willy Warren neighborhood, behind the Santos Guardiola School and the soccer field and connecting with Thicket Mouth Road above Roatan Hospital, a distance of more than a kilometer. It was awash with mud September 29.
Moving further east, work was well in progress on the access road for the future site of the Ocean View Windfarm (see page 18). A bit further up the highway, the finishing touches were being put on the pavement on the road leading to Colonia Santamaría. Workers were also laying pipe for a new sewage collection system for Santamaría, and the foundation had been laid for a teatment plant.
Dan Taylor, general manager of ACME Environmental Solutions, said ACME had been contracted to complete the first two phases of a six-phase wastewater project for Santamaría using funds from “impact fees” that Carnival Cruise Lines paid in connection with its construction of the nearby Mahogany Bay cruise ship port. He said the project was to include a collection system and an aerobic treatment plant, and if funding for the remaining phases is secured, the system could be completed in about six months.
As we reported last December, sewage from septic tanks in Colonia Santamaría, a model community built with help from the Swedish and German governments, regularly spilled out onto the dirt roads running through the community, creating a health and environmental hazard.
In Los Fuertes, another poor and primarily Spanish-speaking area, new pavement could be seen on the road leading to the La Bahía neighborhood, running past the new location of the Molinero’s home supply store, and uphill across the main road, running behind the Plaza Miss Mery strip mall.
While many of these communities are getting paved access for the first time, the existing roads leading between West End and West Bay and south of the Port of Roatan through Flowers Bay, which transport many if not most of the international tourists who visit the island, remained riddled with potholes. On many stretches of West Bay Road, which was patched last year, last season’s patches were about all that was holding the blacktop together.
In May 2012 Roatan Mayor Julio Galindo said he had secured a Lps. 46 million loan from Banco Atlántida to rebuild the West Bay Road, which he said was in “terrible shape” and “won’t take another winter.” He said he had commissioned an engineering study and hoped to complete the work before the onset of that season’s rains. But the road was only patched together with asphalt.
This year, sources said the Municipal Corporation (city council) opposed rebuilding the West Bay Road this year because it was too politically sensitive a project to be done in an election year or did not want the incumbent mayor to take credit for it. Sources said some on the Corporation also opposed the Municipality taking on debt for the project, believing the Central Government should fund it.
The Mayor was traveling the week before we went to press with this issue and could not be reached to comment on these many public works and how they are being financed. But while the work was going on, property owners in West End were receiving hefty bills for the public works that were undertaken in their community last year.