The Board of Directors of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) approved funding for the rehabilitation and upgrading of 40 kilometres of the Millennium Highway and West Coast Road. The two corridors, constituting a third of Saint Lucia’s 137-kilometre primary road network, provide the main link between the capital city of Castries and the town of Soufriere in the west.
“This road project will result in increased economic activity and more resilient infrastructure. We envision the rehabilitation and upgrading of the two roads bringing benefits to the most disadvantaged in Saint Lucia through improved mobility, accessibility, and climate resilience,” said CDB Vice-President (Operations), Monica La Bennett.
The US$52-million project is being funded by a grant of almost £28-million (US$35-million) from the Government of the United Kingdom through the CDB-administered United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Fund, a loan of approximately US$8-million from CDB, and contribution of US$9 million from the Government of Saint Lucia.
“Our support to the Millennium Highway and West Coast Road project is a very tangible demonstration of the UK’s commitment to Saint Lucia – a key Commonwealth partner for Global Britain. This project will be transformative – significantly contributing to economic development and improving access to the Saint Lucia’s agriculture and tourism sectors,” said British High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Janet Douglas.
While the project will shorten the overall travel time on the two roads, it will boost road safety to vastly lower the number of accidents and fatalities. The narrow bridge at Anse La Raye Village will be reconstructed to meet international standards and to allow traffic in both directions. Separating vehicular and pedestrian traffic will also make the bridge safer.
The upgrading of the roads requires the acquisition of 3.5 acres of land. Eleven households located on such land and 15 roadside vendors in Roseau Valley, situated dangerously close to the roadside, will be relocated or compensated. The vendors, most of them women selling souvenirs to tourists, will also be offered training in business development and life skills.
In anticipation of the planned relocation of the cargo port from Castries to Cul de Sac, the road will be upgraded to handle the expected increase in traffic to the new port.