The National Roads Authority can offer no significant relief in the short term to ease the traffic problem on West Bay Road, managing director Colford Scott told the Legislative Assembly in Finance Committee Thursday.
However, plans are proceeding for something that will help: the northerly extension of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, which will eventually run all the way to West Bay.
‘We are Gazetting the land for that now,’ said Minister of Works Gilbert McLean.
In the meantime, the traffic situation on West Bay Road is getting worse, said West Bay MLA Rolston Anglin.
‘Traffic lines are more than seven miles long,’ he said, noting that some of his constituents now have to awaken in the morning three or four hours before they need to be at work.
Fellow West Bay MLA Cline Glidden also expressed his concern over the traffic situation. He asked Mr. Scott what happened with the proposed lane reversal plan, where two lanes of traffic would head into George Town in the morning and two lanes of traffic would head north in the evenings.
Mr. Scott said such a traffic flow would create significant difficulties for those wanting to make turns, and was therefore not practical.
The usual solution for a road that had reached traffic capacity was to add another lane, Mr Scott said. ‘But West Bay Road does not have enough capacity to make four lanes.’
As for what can be done to ease the problem in the short term, Mr. Scott could only offer suggestions to the motorists.
‘Unfortunately, there are no easy answers,’ he said.
Only by reducing the number of vehicles on West Bay Road would the traffic problem get any better until the Esterley Tibbetts highway extension is built, Mr. Scott said.
He said carpooling and public transportation were two ways of reducing the number of vehicles travelling from West Bay in the mornings.
Mr. Scott said another thing drivers can do is obey the traffic signs. He said some people are turning left into Governor’s Harbour and then rejoining West Bay Road at Safehaven.
‘This doesn’t help the traffic flow,’ he said.
Speaking with the Caymanian Compass later, Mr. Scott offered an analogy to demonstrate why the shortcut is unfair to other motorists.
‘It’s like a line at the bank,’ he said. ‘If you step in front of five other people, the line doesn’t move any faster. It’s the teller that determines the flow. The people you went in front of just have to wait longer.’
Last Friday, the Royal Cayman Islands Police issued a statement announcing they would be cracking down on motorists cutting through Indies Suites and Governor’s Harbour to help alleviate the traffic congestion on West Bay Road.
But until the Esterley Tibbetts Highway extension is completed, traffic will remain a problem on the road.
Mr. Scott indicated he hoped to start on the extension project sooner rather than later, particularly the section near the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
‘I’d like to fast-track that 200-foot section to get it completed while the Hyatt is closed,’ he said.
Mr. Scott acknowledged the overall traffic situation is getting worse, partially because of the number of cars being brought to the island.
‘We might have had 10,000 cars destroyed in Ivan, but I understand that some 5,600 cars came here last year, and a lot more have come in January and February,” he said.
During the Legislative Assembly Meeting, George Town MLA Alden McLaughlin asked if the Government had ever considered limiting the number of cars being imported to the country.
‘That would be an excellent idea if it were practical,’ said Minister McLean, commenting that Cayman residents always want the newest kinds of vehicles available.