The largest road through Grand Cayman’s main tourist area will undergo some safety-related changes, according to Roads Minister Arden McLean.
Mr. McLean told a group of more than 100 political supporters Wednesday night that his ministry planned to reduce the speed limit on West Bay Road from 40 to 25 miles per hour. He also said additional safety measures like pedestrian crossings and flashing lights would eventually be installed.
West Bay Road north of downtown George Town runs parallel to Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach, which is home to major stay-over tourism destinations like the Grand Marriott Beach Resort, the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, and the Grand Cayman Beach Suites (formerly the Hyatt Regency).
There have been concerns from residents for many months that tourists crossing the busy road, particularly at night, are putting themselves in danger.
However, there is no other way for people to walk across the street to access shopping and restaurants, with the exception of the overhead pedestrian bridges at the Ritz-Carlton and Beach Suites.
‘Especially this time of year…you see a lot of tourists trying to cross three lanes of traffic,’ said West Bay resident Mario Ebanks. ‘It’s a death trap.
‘We don’t want to see anymore of our tourists or residents getting knocked down there,’ he said.
In the past two years, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has not recorded a fatal auto pedestrian accident along that stretch of road. However, car accidents on West Bay Road are not uncommon.
With the Esterley Tibbetts Highway now fully opened to the east of West Bay Road, allowing an alternate route for through traffic, Mr. McLean said the time has come to make some changes.
‘The governor just wrote me about that,’ Mr. McLean told the crowd at Wednesday night’s event. ‘The plans are to turn that road into a 25 mile-per-hour zone and then put the pedestrian crossings (there).’
Mr. McLean said the pedestrian crossings would be somewhat similar to one recently installed outside the Cayman Islands Immigration Department headquarters on Elgin Avenue. The crossing is a clearly marked, white-striped section of raised pavement, which forces drivers to slow down on approach.
‘We probably won’t put a hump like that — that narrow — it’ll probably be longer, but the crossing lights will be available,’ he said.
It’s unclear whether the entire section of West Bay, which remains at 40 miles an hour, would have its speed limits lowered. There are portions of the road closer to West Bay District that already have a 25 mile an hour speed limit.
The speed limit along the Esterley Tibbetts Highway between Camana Bay and the Courtyard Marriott was recently raised from 25 to 40 miles an hour. Mr. McLean said the government had to wait until the road was substantially completed and street lights were installed before making the change.
‘Now that we have the Esterley Tibbetts bypass almost into West Bay, and the old road is freed up quite a bit, we should put pedestrian crossings or flashing warning lights or something there,’ Mr. Ebanks said.
Mr. McLean said the government plans to eventually acquire land to extend the bypass all the way into West Bay District, although that work is not included in the Esterley Tibbetts expansion, which the government expects to finish within the next year.