Work begins on highway

The National Roads Authority began work on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway extension last week, Minister of Works Arden McLean said at the Cabinet press briefing on Friday.

Work on the section of road that will go through the Hyatt Regency property began on Thursday, and on the section that will go through The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman property on Friday.

Mr. McLean said the plan is to get the highway usable as soon as possible.

‘We want to get it to the point where it’s drivable,’ he said, ‘It won’t be complete; things like curbs and sidewalks can be put in afterwards.’

The corridors through the Ritz-Carlton and Hyatt have already been gazetted, but still have to be gazetted ‘as built’ afterwards.

A few months prior to being sold in late 2003, there were reports that the Hyatt Regency would seek millions of dollars from the Cayman Islands Government as compensation for building the road through the property. The cost of business interruption was part of that compensation.

Mr. McLean noted that with the Hyatt still being closed after Hurricane Ivan, there will be no business interruption.

Regardless, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said there would be no compensation for the road corridor because its handover to Government was a condition to planning approval given to the Hyatt’s original owner, Ellesmere Britannia Ltd., when it constructed a tennis court and mechanical room structure.

‘I didn’t hear this from anyone and no one had to tell me, because I was there,’ said Mr. Tibbetts, explaining he was a member of the Central Planning Authority board at the time back in the late-1980s.

‘If there is any war with the owners of that property for that land with this government over the question of remuneration, I can promise you and them they are going to have a war,’ he said.

‘The government is not going to pay them any money for the road.’

Mr. Tibbetts expressed the hope the issue would not become contentious.

‘I know [the Hyatt] has changed hands and perhaps the present owner is of sane mind and a good corporate citizen, so perhaps [the demand for remuneration] has changed.’

Mr. Tibbetts said the situation with the property between the Ritz-Carlton and Lime Tree Bay was similar, in that planning permission was granted on the condition of the Esterley Tibbetts road corridor.

‘The same occurred with the Safe Haven development,’ he said, noting the developers of Safe Haven had planned their project around the road.

Mr. McLean said the gazetting of the corridor through the Governor’s Harbour area was creating some backlash.

‘Unfortunately, there was some misinformation given to homeowners in Governor’s Harbour,’ he said. ‘I have a meeting with them next week, and I’ll be telling them it’s necessary for the road to go through there.’

With regard to other road works, Mr. McLean said work on the Elgin Avenue roundabout would recommence after a lay-off over the holidays. Once the curbs are put in, the roundabout will be paved, which the Minister said he hoped would be completed by the end of January or beginning of February.

However, completing the widening of the road between the Elgin Avenue roundabout and the Butterfield Bank roundabout will be delayed some because of the need to complete the necessary electricity cable and water pipe infrastructure works beforehand.

‘I would like to say the [road] will be completed in three to four months,’ Mr. McLean said.

Another National Roads Authority project, that of filling potholes and clearing the bushes from the sides of Cayman’s roads, was nearly completed, Mr. McLean said.

In addition, the National Roads Authority was in the process of demarcating the public beach accesses on Grand Cayman.

‘They have erected beach signs that were taken away by Ivan,’ he said. ‘About 20 signs have been erected so far to make sure people know where the beach accesses are in this country.’