The Dart Group has agreed to improve Antone Bodden Drive looping around the heart of Bodden Town.
The road enhancement is a direct response to residents’ concerns about an influx of heavy vehicular traffic going to and from the site of the proposed solid waste facility in the district of Bodden Town, said Mark Scotland, Bodden Town MLA.
“The Antone Bodden Drive that goes behind Bodden Town will be upgraded, and all the heavy traffic will be diverted onto that road,” he said.
Maintaining that the first phase of the new landfill would not generate much extra traffic anyway – and given that Grand Cayman’s quarrying activities take place east of Bodden Town – Mr. Scotland said the planned extension of the East-West Arterial would accommodate additional traffic associated with future growth of the Bodden Town facility, as well as other projects such as Dr. Devi Shetty’s proposed medical tourism hospital.
Group opposed to landfill site
A group of citizens called the Coalition to Keep Bodden Town Dump Free has organised in opposition to the proposed landfill site, which is between Bodden Town and Breakers, near two quarries and the Midland Acres subdivision. A primary concern of the group is the impact of traffic generated by a new solid waste facility.
“How can we trust any elected representative who ignores our concerns, and ignores the already critical level of truck traffic passing along the main road through Bodden Town”, said Vincent Frederick, coalition spokesman.
“How can they claim that ‘200 vehicle trips per day’ (according to Mr. Scotland at the BT Civic centre) – so at least 400 more trucks a day when adding the return trip (empty) – is no valid reason for additional roads, or the extension of the East-West Arterial?”
Mr. Scotland disputed Mr. Frederick’s interpretation of his statement about the number of vehicle trips per day, saying that was an off-the-cuff estimate that included the roughly 12 to 20 trucks operated by the Department of Environmental Health, plus the number of private vehicles (including trucks and cars) travelling to the facility.
A significant portion of the ForCayman Investment Alliance agreement between Dart and government was approved earlier this month, involving the closing of a section of West Bay Road, extension of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway and redevelopment of the former Courtyard Marriott. The remainder of the wide-ranging agreement is still in discussions, including the remediation of the George Town Landfill and opening of the Bodden Town landfill.
Solidifying waste plans
Dart’s improvements to Antone Bodden Drive – which is about a mile or less in length – will be part of the general agreement and will encourage pass-through vehicles to take the loop rather than clogging up central Bodden Town, Mr. Scotland said.
“Every quarry in the Island is located east of Bodden Town. For every bit of road construction, every bit of building construction that takes place in the Island, all of the materials have to be brought through Bodden Town,” he said.
“By enhancing the Antone Bodden road we’re not only going to address the traffic impact from the waste management facility, we’re also going to be able to divert the heavy traffic which currently goes through Bodden Town, which is a very narrow road not conducive to that type of traffic now.”
Dart has purchased 561 acres in the area, including 110 acres earmarked for the new solid waste facility – 40 acres of which is reserved for the actual landfill, Mr. Scotland said. The Bodden Town facility will be wholly contained within that 110 acres and won’t grow beyond it in the future, he said.
“When the waste management facility is completed, it becomes a government-owned facility. We don’t own any of the other property around it, so there certainly won’t be any possibility for expansion into other areas,” he said.
Regarding the East-West Arterial expansion, the plan is that once major projects such as Shetty hospital ramp up, necessitating the new highway, government coffers will have benefitted from the increased economic activity, generating funding for the road project. The East-West Arterial expansion is not part of the general Dart agreement.
Another moving piece of the Dart landfill puzzle is a proposal to enact “environmental tort reform” legislation that would protect Dart from lawsuits while they take control of the George Town landfill remediation. The bill would have to be approved by members of the Legislative Assembly to take effect, Mr. Scotland said.
The aim of the tort reform bill will generally be so that Dart could not be sued by a landfill worker (or visitor) injured before Dart took control of the landfill. The legislation will be strictly limited to Dart in regard to the George Town landfill specifically, so that Dart cannot be held liable for events that occurred prior to the company taking control of the landfill, Mr. Scotland said.