The Public Beach section of West Bay Road could close as early as next month as Dart Realty begins construction on the new Yacht Drive roundabout and the lanes merging traffic between the two road corridors.
The roadworks, which kicked off late Wednesday, comprise the closure of the old Yacht Drive, clearing the way for teams to start on the roundabout, the last project in the initial phase extending the Esterley Tibbetts Highway into West Bay’s Batabano area.
“Traffic diversions at Yacht Drive are now in place and work on the new Yacht Drive roundabout commenced this week,” said Jackie Doak, chief operating officer for Dart Realty. “The approximate target for completion of phase one is February 2013. Road closure will be subsequent to completion of phase one and gazettal of the new road.”
Starting roughly opposite West Bay Road’s Renaissance residences, workers will cut a “temporary Yacht Drive Diversion”, briefly joining the Batabano extension before cutting eastward again and splitting into twin, roughly parallel tracks: a Salt Creek Entrance Road and an approach to both the Yacht Club and Vista Del Mar.
“Construction of the roundabout will require temporary traffic diversion,” according to a news release issued by Dart Realty. “All traffic using Yacht Drive, including traffic to and from the Cayman Islands Yacht Club and Vista Del Mar, will be diverted via this road.
“The diversion is expected to be in place until early February,” the release read.
Southbound traffic on West Bay Road – between The Renaissance and White Sands, directly opposite the old Yacht Drive intersection – will suffer modest disruptions during the construction, lasting “a couple of weeks, and, to be safe, until early February,” Ms Doak said.
Meanwhile, on the eve of a Saturday afternoon protest by a variety of West Bay community groups, contesting the ultimate closure of the West Bay Road between Trafalgar Place and Yacht Drive Club, Dart Realty has released a map detailing the ultimate disposition of the area, promising partial completion by Easter.
The document tracks several miles of bicycle and pedestrian paths along Public Beach, roughly duplicating the route of West Bay Road along the entire 4,000-foot corridor scheduled to be discontinued, past the old Courtyard Marriott, extending as far as the new Yacht Drive Roundabout and road junction, now dubbed “Dune Trail”.
A nine-acre park and inland extension of Public Beach will occupy the area adjacent to Trafalgar Place, while a wood-planked “Mangrove Forest Trail”, north of the Marriott, will extend to the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, beneath a bridge and on to the Yacht Club.
“The paths will stretch from Public Beach to Yacht Drive, and will for the first time in Cayman provide public beachfront trails uniquely for pedestrian and cycle use,” according to the release, adding “work will begin imminently, in anticipation of having some public amenities complete in time for the Easter holidays.”
According to the release, the trails will offer “restrooms, benches, rubbish and recycling bins, native plantings and other amenities,” for the public.
The new park, the document reads, will comprise “shade trees, children’s play areas, space for public camping and a purpose-built car park with 100 spaces. Also included are volleyball, soccer and other sports facilities that will improve Cayman’s ability to host national sporting events that complement the tourism product.”
The residential complexes just north of Public Beach, and within the road-closure area, will be served by a purpose-built spur at the new Yacht Drive junction.
“Once work on the beach park is complete,” the release read, the company would “surrender its leasehold of the land to government, 56 years ahead of the legal expiration. Government will wholly own the park land and facilities, which along with its existing Public Beach ownership, will create an area of more than 12 acres in public ownership.”
Ms Doak told the Caymanian Compass that completion of the extension to Batabano will be “in the second quarter of 2013”, and ultimately cost an estimated $32.5 million for the entire project.
It remains unclear when refurbishment of the Courtyard Marriott will begin, although design work is ongoing. The build out is anticipated to take between two years and three years at a cost of US$170 million.