Minister of Infrastructure Arden McLean said Friday the Esterley Tibbetts Highway Extension project was still looking like it would be ready for travel by 31 July or the beginning of August.
The original date for the opening of the road was 30 June, but Mr. McLean announced in Finance Committee in May it would not be ready until 31 July because of delays in building a bridge over the canal at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
Mr. McLean explained that all the road works would not be completed by that day; however the road would be drivable.
Initially, the road will be sealed with chip and spray on a temporary basis. Mr. McLean dispelled notions that it would be left that way.
‘I can assure the people of this country that will not happen,’ he said. ‘It will be paved. However, it will be chip and spray for a while.’
Mr. McLean said that before the road can be paved with asphalt, curbing would need to be installed.
The Esterley Tibbetts Highway extension will take the road from its current end just south of the Hyatt Regency Hotel to just north of the Courtyard Marriott Hotel.
With regard to the Ritz-Carlton bridge, Mr. McLean said a different type of bridge would be used than originally thought.
‘It will be a culvert-type bridge,’ he said. ‘It is currently being shipped here, and will be installed by 31 July.’
Mr. McLean said the National Road Authority was having some difficulties completing the trenching for crossing utilities on the highway. The current cement shortage was a factor in that difficulty, he said.
Once the highway is completed, Mr. McLean said the government would be instituting an Adopt-a-Highway programme that will allow corporate entities to sponsor sections of the road and put up ‘tasteful signage’.
‘I believe the corporate citizens will be quite appreciative for that [opportunity],’ he said, noting that two roundabouts along the highway will also be available for adoption.
Mr. McLean also provided updates on other proposed road works.
‘The east-west arterial, which we promised to start this fiscal year… is well on its way,’ he said. ‘We haven’t started construction yet, but planning is underway.’
The initial phase of the road will connect Newlands with Prospect, Mr. McLean said, adding that it was hoped that construction would start on 1 August.
Mr. McLean also said that the mini-roundabout in the centre of George Town would not be replaced.
‘We’re leaving it as it is right now,’ he said. ‘People were always a little confused with that roundabout. But we have to try other things.’