Traffic was a hot topic of discussion at the Legislative Assembly last week and some innovative solutions were put forward for consideration.
Recognition of the growing traffic problems in Grand Cayman has led the Government to make traffic congestion one the Government’s broad outcome goals for the 2006 – 2009 period.
Among the most and ambitious projects for the Cayman Islands in this year’s budget is funding for a National Transportation Plan to guide development of the country’s road network.
The budget also allocates $12.25 million for road works around the island. This will be spent on acquiring land for new roads primarily in East End and North Side, completion of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, the commencement of the Newlands-Prospect arterial road and on improvements and maintenance of existing roads.
Rapid development and uncontrolled car numbers are beginning to take their tolls on morning commutes, which for many residents begin at 7am or earlier. Increased traffic congestion is also negatively affecting air quality and tourism.
It has already been reported here that holiday traffic jams have resulted in missed flights and long waits, and members of the legislature discussed several ideas that might contribute to fixing the problem for the long term.
‘With, for example, 8 to 10 thousand vehicles passing through just the Savannah to Prospect area each morning. We must begin thinking of better ways to move people around the island,’ Minister of Communications, Works and Infrastructure Arden McLean told the Legislature last week.
Bodden Town member Osbourne Bodden offered some options for the transportation plan.
‘We need to ensure that we develop a reliable and efficient public transport system and control by some means the amount of vehicles entering these islands on an annual basis,’ he told the Legislature.
Members also discussed the potential for one or more of the new government office buildings to be constructed east of George Town, which would divert hundreds of cars.
A number of the proposed solutions revisit traditional methods used to navigate the island.
‘We need to make more use of the waters that surround this island and look seriously at developing water modes of transport from West Bay to George Town and across the North Sound, which will have a direct impact on traffic volumes,’ said Mr. Bodden.
Mr. Bodden encouraged revisiting the George Town bacadere or the Newlands areas to provide marine shuttle embarkation points for tourists visiting the North Sound.
The government’s commitment to the traffic congestion issue also involves cracking down on bad drivers. This year’s policy statement includes plans to amend current traffic and related laws to influence safer driving on all roads.