Budget crunch nixes West Bay Road crosswalks

The pair of crosswalks proposed for West Bay Road have become casualties of the reduced budget for transportation infrastructure. 

In late October, National Roads Authority Managing Director Brian Tomlinson said the installation of the pedestrian crosswalks was imminent.  

“There is money that was approved in this year’s budget, and the plans are done, and the materials are being ordered right now for a new crosswalk at The Strand, and we’ve been working with the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, and they have pledged another $50,000 to install one at the Westin. So that’s a start,” he said. 

However, Mr. Tomlinson said Thursday the $100,000 project was cancelled due to a lack of funding a few weeks after he made that statement. 

“We were ready to go forward, but we didn’t have the money to buy the materials,” he said. “Do you want me to make payroll to keep Caymanian families employed or do you want me to put up pedestrian crosswalks?” 

 

More money, less money 

The supplementary budget approved last week by the Finance Committee earmarked $7 million in appropriations for the roads authority. In order to help balance the budget, the government diverted $8 million in revenue originally intended to go to the roads authority. 

“At Finance Committee they did make an appropriation from the Road Fund to the NRA. It was a little less than what we were asking for, but it was a substantial amount,” Mr. Tomlinson said. 

As of 15 December, 2011, 
central government owed the roads authority $2.5 million for projects the roads authority had executed.  

“That position really hasn’t changed, as far as the NRA being owed money. Government ends up paying part of the bill a little bit at a time, so we can still end up keeping people employed, doing maintenance work and things like that,” Mr. Tomlinson said. 

The $7 million in supplemental appropriations is broken down as follows: $2.2 million for Grand Cayman District Roads Programme, $3.5 million for routine maintenance, $1.224 million for the Government Street Lighting Programme and $76,000 for Pavement and Other Roads Asset Management Programmes. 

Additionally, the supplemental budget reduces funding to the Ministry of District Administration, Works, Lands and Agriculture by $664,000 for miscellaneous road surface upgrades, and increases funding to the Ministry for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman roads by $800,000. 

Mr. Tomlinson said he wasn’t sure if there would be enough money to install the anticipated crosswalks, or how much of the $7 million in appropriations the roads authority would ever really see. 

“The problem is we still don’t have any indication that the cash is there to actually pay us,” he said. 

“Is there funding for the crosswalks? I don’t know. They made appropriations, but do they have the cash? I don’t know,” Mr. Tomlinson said. 

 

Road funding 

The roads authority differs from entities such as port authority or airports authority in that the roads authority does not have a dedicated source of revenue. The Road Fund – made up of gasoline duty, diesel fuel duty, infrastructure fund fees and motor vehicle registration fees – is intended to finance the roads authority. However, during the development of this year’s budget, the government determined to bypass the Road Fund and give the money directly to the roads authority. Meanwhile, the minister in charge of Works, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly established a committee to explore the possibility of transforming the roads authority into a regulatory authority, which would result in a halving of operating costs for the roads authority, and the resulting accrual of excess revenue into the Road Fund that would not go to core government. 

Premier McKeeva Bush said Cabinet would continue to give money directly to the roads authority “until a final determination can be made”. 

If the roads authority became a regulatory authority, then the government would pay non-governmental contractors to perform works currently done by the roads authority. 

Mr. Tomlinson doubted if sufficient public funds will be available for any significant road construction projects in the foreseeable future.  

“The only way I can see to build any major highways in the future is through public-private partnerships, such as what we see with Dart Realty and the Esterley Tibbetts Highway,” he said. 

“Maybe a group will want to see the East-West Arterial Highway extended further to the east, for example,” he said. 

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Unbelievable. Do they want US to raise the money? Put a jar outside each of the businesses and condos along SMB and ask for pennies. Yes I’m being ridiculous but so is not moving ahead with it. And no, I don’t want any Caymanians to go hungry as if that’s the only other option.

    What I’m wondering is whether they promised the family of the deceased woman(who died crossing that stretch of road)something would be done in that area. I know this was all discussed previously but wasn’t it just going to be a bunch of yellow lines on the road with crossing written? It wasn’t a concrete structure overhead.

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  2. I cannot believe you have the audacity to say: …crosswalks are casualties of the reduced budget. There will be casualties, all right, but the real casualties will be people who are killed or seriously injured because a crosswalk wasn’t put in. What about children trying to cross the road — should they run like mad and hope for the best? Seriously — how much can it be to paint white lines on the road? This is incredibly irresponsible of our government. Whose bright idea was this anyhow?

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  3. Priorities, priorities, priorities. There are piers to be built, luxury hurricane shelters to be constructed, little used roads to be paved and others re-routed, hospitals to be erected, dumps to be moved and schools to be finished.

    Certainly no simply pedestrian crosswalk should be contemplated until the important projects are completed and paid for. It is not like possibly saving a life is really all that important when compared to the above endeavors.

    Cannot find a few dollars from the Dart donation to see this through??? Shame, shame, shame….

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  4. Too bad they could not find one no particular purpose luxury trip to cancel rather than crosswalks that will save lives but I guess that demonstrates the priorities.

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  5. Wow-how many people need to be killed before they actually implement those cross walks.
    We don’t need tourists going back home and saying how hard or how dangerous it was to cross the streets in Grand Cayman.
    What about all the DART ????

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  6. the NRA still seem to find funds to pay UK lawyers to act against Caymanian landowners wanting compensation for the previous bypass though!

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  7. Here in the US; New Jersey, we value the concept of traffic calming; reduction of needless vehicular speed especially in business and residential areas. By eliminating the dollars for a cross walk, the decision makers are indicating that wreckless speeding cars, injured and killed residents, workers and tourists are not on their priority list. The reputation of West Bay Speedway will continue to be that of a death trap for pedestrians until safe areas are created for the walking public to negotiate the thoroughfare. It is incumbent upon condo owners, business proprietors and those with sense press this issue. Cross walks in this area are a necessity in order to prevent loss of life, injuries, law suits and to help the 7MB area to grow, flourish and regain its reputation as a place of beauty, relaxation and safety for all.

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  8. Now this really confuses me. That must be one hell of a crosswalk to cost 50,000 dollars. I mean is it a bridge over the road, I thought a crosswalk was no more that two lines and a traffic light..

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