A reconfiguration of West Bay Road to help ease the traffic problem heading into George Town will soon be implemented.
Minister of Works Arden McLean announced the plan last Friday at the Cabinet press briefing, saying Cayman had been in a traffic ‘stranglehold’ for far too long.
Mr. McLean explained that two traffic lanes on West Bay Road will be created coming into town from West Bay.
To start with, the lane configuration will be introduced between the mini roundabout next to the Galleria Shopping Centre and the northern boundary of the Hyatt Regency, a stretch of about 500 feet.
‘The left lane will only be able to turn on to the by-pass,’ said Mr. McLean. ‘And you will not be able to change lanes.’
Edward Howard, Deputy Managing Director of the National Roads Authority, said a safety road barrier will be installed to prevent the changing of lanes for vehicles heading south in the reconfigured zone.
The barriers will mean that vehicles heading north will not be able to turn directly in the Regency Court shopping plaza, the Lone Star Bar and Grill or the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
Access to the Hyatt will be gained through the continuation of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway past the almost completed new large roundabout.
‘We have to acquire a bit of land to create the turning lane,’ Mr. Howard said. ‘We’re gazetting that now.’
The new traffic plan is proposed to go into effect before Christmas, Mr. Howard said.
Mr. Howard said it is unknown if the lane configuration is long enough to have the desired effect, but that it would be tried first.
If it does not help the traffic flow from West Bay sufficiently, the reconfiguration will be taken further north, probably to the Grand Pavilion.
This would prevent right turns into Buckingham Square, Deckers Restaurant and the miniature golf course.
Northbound motorists wishing to turn into these establishments would have to travel beyond the lane barricades, and find a place to turn around.
Motorists exiting the affected West Bay Road establishments will only be able to turn left into the by-pass turning lane, and will have to reverse course by going around the new Hyatt roundabout and then back around the existing mini roundabout.
Mike Flowers, owner of the Lone Star Bar and Grill said he had not been advised of the plan and expressed surprise to hear it would be implemented so soon.
Minister McLean said the lane reconfiguration would be in place until the by-pass road went far enough north to ease the traffic problem.
Mr. McLean said $3 million had been budgeted to continue work on the by-pass road in this fiscal year. He said he hoped that amount would take the road to the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
However, the budgeted amount will probably only get the road past the Hyatt and possibly to Snug Harbour, Mr. Howard said.
‘We’ll have to see how far it takes us,’ he said.
Mr. Howard explained the part of the budgeted funding would be used to fill in a 15-foot portion of the Palm Heights (or Hyatt) canal for a safety margin to ensure the road would not be undermined by water.
In addition, the higher cost of petroleum products has driven the cost of asphalt higher, Mr. Howard said.