More than $30 million will be spent to build, widen and expand a network of roads across Grand Cayman over the next three years, Infrastructure Minister Joey Hew said this week, as he toured various sites with other government ministers and officials.
The multi-year project has been two years in the making, Hew explained, responding to Compass questions about the timing of the work falling close to the general election date. Funding for the project was approved in the last budget cycle, Hew said, but work was delayed because of the COVID-19 lockdown.
The network expansion works consist of five sub-projects, some of which are being constructed simultaneously.
Rex Crighton Boulevard
The Rex Crighton Boulevard (formerly the East West Arterial) will be expanded by two miles from Hirst Road to east of Woodland Drive in Bodden Town. The expansion has the potential to impact indigenous flora and fauna in the area. To mitigate against this, Hew said, his team has been in contact with the National Conservation Council.
“This is of national importance for us; it is extremely critical to relieve some of the stress for persons in the eastern districts,” he said. “But at the same time, we want to be as environmentally sensitive as possible. However, we can’t delay this for years doing studies, etc. So, we have been working with the National Conservation Council, and we are very optimistic that they will work with us in allowing us to continue to build the road.”
Godfrey Nixon Way
An extension of Godfrey Nixon Way in George Town is about three months away from being completed, officials said. When finished, it will stretch from the traffic lights, past the Blue Marlin restaurant and bar on Eastern Avenue, and end by Da Fish Shack restaurant on North Church Street.
Hew said this stretch of road will be a first of its kind for Cayman, because it will be built using the ‘complete streets’ methodology. “We are going to move away from building roads for cars and go towards building roads for the movement of people,” the minister said. “Whether they are on foot, on bicycles, on scooters or cars, the complete streets methodology allows everyone to use the streets safely.”
A stretch of Shamrock Road that runs from the Red Bay roundabout to the Grand Harbour roundabout, where work began in 2019, is expected to resume, and will see a third lane added to the side leading into George Town, which will result in a total of six lanes. Grand Harbour connector road A new road is also under construction that will stretch from the Grand Harbour roundabout and connect to the CUC roundabout on Crewe Road. Airport Connector Road The first phase of the Airport Connector Road is currently under construction. When complete, the road will run from between Cayman International School and the George Town Landfill, and will eventually lead down to Sparky Drive in Industrial Park.
“We will also connect Seymour Drive into that as well,” said Hew. “This will alleviate a lot of the pressure on the Butterfield roundabout on the North Sound Road… we are anticipating that a lot of the commercial traffic, in particular on Seymour Drive and Sparky Drive, will take advantage of that connector.”
Hew said the second phase of that road, which will lead to the George Town Yacht Club, will depend on the outcome of negotiations with the landowner.
Linford Pierson Highway Hew said government is also in the final gazettal stages of the widening of the Linford Pierson Highway and, once completed, work will begin to create three lanes that will connect to the Tortuga roundabout. Government remains locked in a legal battle with the landowners of a horse stable on the Linford Pierson Highway; if it receives a favourable outcome, it will be able to construct an additional two lanes leading towards the eastern districts.
Government is currently piloting a free shuttle programme throughout George Town, which was designed to help reduce the number of cars coming in and out of the central business district. However, an unreliable public transportation system has long plagued Cayman and has fuelled traffic woes. Now, the system is under review.
“It’s not just about getting bigger buses,” said Hew. “I want us to think: how do we move people safely and comfortably?”