Road to recovery

Inroads are being made on Cayman’s road network as restoration work continues post-Ivan.

Seawater, sand and debris along with the strong winds of the hurricane caused extensive damage to the country’s estimated 140 miles of roadways. In some cases, roads were buried in sand while others were washed away completely by the storm surge.

‘Right now we’re still doing our Ivan-related repair programme,’ said Edward Howard, Deputy Managing Director of the National Road Authority. ‘We’ve managed to temporarily fix the majority of the wash-outs and areas where the roads were damaged severely. But everything is passable now. You can get around the island quite well.’

A survey by the NRA found 39 sections of the roadway sustained minor to major damage from the hurricane, with the hardest hit areas in Bodden Town, East End and South Sound.

Over the next several months, the NRA will be re-engineering roadways that had been roughed in as well as repairing damage in severely-hit areas including dangerous spots along the coast in East End.

With a temporary oilspray-and-chip surface now complete on South Sound Road, the NRA is focusing on getting the roads back in shape in East End so they can be paved.

‘We’ll then go back and tackle South Sound because it’s actually going to need some intense surveying,’ said Howard. ‘We’re going to have to survey the whole road over to make sure we haven’t encroached on anybody’s property.’

He said shoreline protection work is a priority as the storm left coastal roadways susceptible to future erosion, particularly in Bodden Town, parts of East End and South Sound.

‘We did lose quite a bit of coastline and it has left the roads more vulnerable than before. We need to protect the roads on the coastline so that they don’t wash out as easily. It’s important not so much for the road but what’s underneath – water, telephone, sewer and other utilities.’

Damage to the road network is estimated at up to CI$9 million, which takes into account the possibility of shifting the location of some sections to ensure their safety during hurricane season.

A report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, estimates the total impact sustained by the road transport sector – which includes roads, drainage systems, traffic signals and signs, buildings and laboratories and public and private vehicles – at around CI$195 million. Direct damage to assets represents 75 per cent (CI$146 million) with the remaining 25 percent to higher operational transport costs (CI$49 million).

The storm damaged or destroyed all eight traffic signals (which have now been restored) and many of the traffic signs were blown away or bent by the winds. The NRA suffered damage to several of its buildings as well as to its laboratory and materials testing equipment.

The storm took a heavy toll on vehicles as well. According to the report, one in five private vehicles was rendered useless by the storm and left both private and government heavy transport vehicles in short supply. About 50 per cent of the NRA’s fleet was damaged or destroyed.

‘We’ve since managed to repair some of them,’ noted Howard. ‘We’re continuing repair work and we’ll be getting new trucks and loaders in the coming months which will bring us back to our full capacity.’

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