Almost three years after its completion, the US $9.2 million South Coast Boardwalk has surpassed expectations, to become an integral part of the Barbadian landscape.

And, after facing criticism from some quarters during its construction phase, the principals behind the Rockley to Coconut Court Waterfront Improvement Project are expressing much satisfaction at the overwhelming popularity of the engineering intervention, among locals and tourists alike.

The project, the largest and highest priority within Government’s Coastal Infrastructure Programme (CIP), stretches over a 1.2 km length of coastline from Rockley Beach to Hastings, Christ Church. Its primary objectives were to provide continuous public access along the shoreline and enhance beaches, where feasible and appropriate.

On any given day from as early as 5:00 a.m., both Barbadians and visitors can be found walking or jogging along the scenic Boardwalk massaged by calming ocean breeze.?? Evenings?? and?? weekends?? are?? no different, as fitness enthusiasts, families and even wedding parties could be found making use of?? the facilities.

"As???? the Manager who has worked on it [and] who took a lot of abuse when it was being built – it does bring a sense of satisfaction to see it so heavily used by everyone…having exposed Barbadians to an aspect of the shoreline they would not

previously have accessed is very satisfying for us here,"?? CIP Project Manager with the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), Antonio Rowe, admitted.

Mr. Rowe said it was especially gratifying to witness the response, especially from an engineering perspective, since the intervention was primarily a means of shoreline protection in the fight against climate change.

"To hear people say they can use it as a de-stressor, as a place to relax; to see runners who say they find it difficult to run on the road, but easy to run along the Boardwalk; to be able to link Hilton to Rockley and to have actually created more than a recreational space, since I have seen weddings and even music videos done on the Boardwalk – we are honoured to have provided this for the population of Barbados," he observed.

The Project Manager said the unique attraction was hardly found elsewhere in the Caribbean, and exposed Barbadians to the myriad business establishments along the South Coast stretch.

"I am still waiting for its popularity to wane,?? but it does not seem to be happening. From all accounts people are saying that it is too short and that it should be extended to St. Lawrence. The proof of its success is in its use," Mr. Rowe?? maintained.

The CZMU official also underscored the need for regular maintenance of the multi-million dollar project, primarily in order to preserve its use.

With the department preparing to conduct initial maintenance work, the Project Manager indicated the consultants to the project had suggested a systematic maintenance schedule to commence after 5 years, which would virtually see all of the boards in the Boardwalk replaced.

In commenting on the need for regular maintenance of projects under the CIP, Director of the CZMU Dr. Leo Brewster stated: "We have to start maintenance work at Rockley from this year. I know that the Boardwalk?? still looks beautiful and everything, but the amount of pedestrian traffic that has traversed it over the last two and a half years is significant. ??We ??have been maintaining the Welches Boardwalk for about two years and we also have to look at Holetown in terms of how we are going to manage that walkway as well."

The project, which was constructed between July 2007 and January 2009, was designed based on a headland-beach concept. Five headlands??were constructed along the project site and beaches??were created using a total of 12, 000 cubic metres??of beach sand.??An offshore breakwater and several spurs were also constructed. The prominent feature of the project is the popular Boardwalk.

So as?? Barbadians and visitors continue to enjoy the island’s coastline via this beach enhancement project they are being urged to respect and preserve it, as the CZMU?? pledges to?? play its part in safeguarding it for future generations.????

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