Highway eases traffic to West Bay

It did not happen without a few hiccups – and the project is still not totally complete – but the Esterley Tibbetts Highway extension from the Hyatt Regency to the Courtyard Marriott was started and opened during 2006.

Late in 2005, Minister of Works Arden McLean said the plan was to have the road works open by the end of 2006. But when traffic along West Bay Road worsened, Mr. McLean announced the project would be accelerated to a late June opening.

Work began the first week of January. The acquisition of land for the road was met with opposition from at least one business owner.

By the end of the month, the National Roads Authority announced it would cost roughly CI$12 million to complete the project, well above the CI$3 Mr. McLean had told the Legislative Assembly the road works would cost initially.

Part of the reason for the additional cost was an area of deep swamp the NRA encountered near the Strand Shopping Centre. Ultimately, the NRA purchased a geotextile membrane to go over the swampy area rather than de-mucking and filling it.

In May, it became apparent the road would not open by the end of June because of difficulties in getting the bridge built over the canal at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. Nevertheless, Mr. McLean said the road would open by the end of July.

The project ran into further delays and did not open until 27 September. It opened on a limited basis from 6am through 7pm, with a 25-miles-per-hour speed limit.

Even so, the new road eased the traffic on West Bay Road immediately, cutting the rush hour commute in half or more for West Bay residents.

Although the road was only surfaced with spray and chip technique, Mr. McLean vowed to pave the road with hot-mix asphalt as soon as all the curbing and lighting was completed. The section of the road that had the geotextile will have to remain unpaved for a longer period while road base settles, Mr. McLean said.

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