Belize – no road standards?

Belize is a small country in Latin America, with a 2014 population estimated at around a population of 341,000. Wikipedia says that “it is the only country in Central America whose official language is English, though Belizean Creole and Spanish are also commonly spoken”. Wikipedia also says that Belize is an independent Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.

Given this one would think that the country would adopt UK highway design standards, as for example Ireland and Gibraltar largely have done. However a 2011 document (ref. 2089) published by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)says that:

“There is a lack of design guidelines for highways and streets in Belize with ad hoc reference to standards from the U.S., Mexico, and Europe. It is necessary to adopt a comprehensive set of design guidelines for consistency and safety in the highway network for not only urban streets, but also the national highway. Also, the city’s road hierarchy is not well established, so that roads function with several different types of traffic and with inappropriate design. A hierarchy of primary, secondary, arterial, radial, collector, access, residential, pedestrian, etc. roads should be established”.

Belize is a member of SICA, which has its region-wide, multi-country road design standards. Established standards are also available from other Latin American countries (for example, Chile).

It looks rather like the problem is not so much a “lack of design standards” but, as the IDB text implies, a lack of a decision to choose from the range of existing standards which are already available – and then to apply the selected standards consistently.


2089 – Belize, “Existing Issues of Transport in Belize City”, IDB 2011


About roadnotes

Robert Bartlett is an international consultant with over 30 years of professional experience as a highway and traffic engineer with leading companies and organisations in several countries, including Germany, China (Hong Kong), Qatar and the UK. Specialised in urban studies, transport and the use of GIS, research has included new ideas on subjects such as the study of social justice using GIS, the dimensions of vehicles, and comparative geometrics (highways and transport).
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