Final road access still undecided

Road works recently began for a new canal subdivision along the Seven Mile Beach corridor just south of The Strand Shopping Centre.

The new subdivision, called Clipper Bay, is on a narrow strip of land between Snug Harbour and Canal Point and is being developed Buffa Ltd., represented by Rene Hislop, Stephen Hislop and Reginald Delaphenha.

The overall parcel is long and narrow, spanning more than 3,000 feet between the Esterley Tibbetts Highway and the North Sound, and is only about 250 feet wide.

“It’s 40 lots, about 20 acres,” said Rene Hislop. “Phase one sold out in two days.”

Phase two won’t be sold as vacant lots, but as homes, and possibly some multi-family homes, Mr. Hislop said.

The subdivision, when development work is completed, will include filled lots, a seawall and docks.

“They’ll be ready to build on,” he said.

Clipper Bay’s interior road will take 16 months to complete because it will be being built on filled wetland. Mr. Hislop said the road base will be filled to 9 feet above sea level and then allowed to settle before it is paved, allowing for stabilization.

Road access 

Although the current road works enter from the Esterley Tibbetts Highway on the west end of the property, the final road access will not.

The overall parcel had a road easement onto West Bay Road, but when the Esterley Tibbetts Highway extension from the Galleria Roundabout to Raleigh Quay Road was built – opening in September 2006 – it created a problem because as an arterial road, the Esterley Tibbetts Highway is supposed to have limited access roads connecting to it.

In addition, Denis Thibeault, assistant director of the National Roads Authority Transportation and Planning Unit, said access to the Esterley Tibbetts Highway directly from Clipper Bay “was deemed unsafe due to the location being on the inside of the horizontal curve of the road and the high operating speed of vehicles along this roadway.”

However, there are several other options for road access for Clipper Bay, including the one that was planned for long ago and incorporates the Island Heritage Roundabout, which is sometimes referred to as “the roundabout to nowhere” because it currently does not have any connective roads feeding into it.

“When the Esterley Tibbetts Highway project from the Hyatt site to Lime Tree Bay Avenue was gazetted pursuant to Section 3 of the Roads Law … in May 2005, the plan showed, from the roundabout located south of the Ritz-Carlton property, a road connection to West Bay Road and another one connecting to Canal Point Drive and Jennifer Drive,” Mr. Thibeault said, referring to roads in the Canal Point and Snug Harbour subdivisions.

Mr. Thibeault said that funds for the connective roads going into the Island Heritage Roundabout were not appropriated when that phase of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway was built and, therefore, the roads weren’t constructed.

“However, these two road connectors are essential and their construction will be required, once funding has been addressed.”

Once the connector from the Island Heritage Roundabout to Snug Harbour is built, the intersection of Snug Harbour Drive into the Esterley Tibbetts Highway will remain open, Mr. Thibeault said.

“For the Canal Point Drive intersection, the link to West Bay Road will remain open, while the plan for the link to the Canal Point development (east leg) calls for its eventual closure.”

Initially, the preferred option for the Clipper Bay development is to gain access to the Esterley Tibbetts Highway via Canal Point Drive through the construction of a road that would traverse the piece of property immediately to its north.

“This [solution] would be better for us,” said Mr. Hislop.

However, funding for that project, which would require land acquisition and the construction of the road, is uncertain. Mr. Hislop said it might end up being a joint funding arrangement where Buffa Ltd. did the road construction part.

In the meantime, development work on Clipper Bay continues, and Mr. Hislop said he believes a solution to the road access issue is “on the fast track.”

Kurt Tibbetts, minister of Planning, Lands, Agriculture, Housing and Infrastructure, confirmed that government wants to get the issue sorted out.

“The government has no desire to impede the development of projects of this nature, and Clipper Bay is no exception,” he said. “In order to allow the developers proper access, while allowing as much through traffic on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway as possible, the government is working with all the parties concerned to arrive at the best option which satisfies the situation. We are happy to support developments like this one, and will continue to facilitate dialogue to achieve an amicable resolution.”

Although building a road from Clipper Bay to Canal Point Drive won’t be an overly difficult or expensive task, getting the road from Canal Point Drive to the Island Heritage Roundabout will be. That section of the road would have to be built over an area of deep swamp, which would be expensive to fill.

A similar area, running roughly from Snug Harbour to the Strand Shopping Centre, was encountered during the construction of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway. Rather than demucking and filling the swamp, the National Roads Authority decided to use a geotextile membrane over the swamp and then fill on top of it. The road in that area had to be allowed to settle for about two years before lighting could be installed and the final surface applied.


This road off the Esterley Tibbetts Highway leading into the new canal subdivision Clipper Bay will not be the permanent access to the development. – PHOTO: CHRIS COURT


  1. Great planning… Build a road to a canal that’s not built.. Sell housing plots along this road and canal then… and only then.. look for an access/egress road? And someone thought this was a good idea?

    In the meantime the swamp continues to be developed (badly) with no thought to drainage or flood plains or continually forcing up the water mark thus everyone else in the area suffers from flooding? Not to mention the environmental impact on native flora and fauna…

    Good stuff! Job well done….

  2. Well with rising sea levels Cayman Islands has about 85 yrs left to its life. With the super brainy policies of their politicians who made this island nation of single level properties to high-rise towers with unconstrained development of more and more properties piled one upon another I would guess Cayman has about 20 yrs left. So enjoy people of Cayman Islands while you can. Why should you care about the future when you can be certain you have none?

  3. If they decide to push a road through to Snug Harbour connecting Clipper Bay with via Jennifer Drive, then this will not bode well for the residents of Snug Harbour. This will certainly create more traffic in Snug Harbour from the mere fact that motorists will always choose the path of least resistance. For instance, if I’m a motorist traveling north on the ETH, I would essentially have two choices to get into Clipper Bay. I could go all the way to the Island Heritage roundabout thereby passing Clipper Bay and then come back through Canal Point Drive. Or I could simply turn right into Snug Harbour, go up Jennifer Drive and then connect to Clipper Bay. I think I would choose the latter as a motorists. Same situation exists in the morning when deciding which route to take, especially if I’m going South towards Camana Bay and downtown. Now if we want to avoid this situation, then we really need to address the real problem in the area which is the lack of right hand turn lanes. So if we’re talking about road access, let’s also talk about installing more right hand turn lanes in the area. A few more well placed right hand turn lanes would certainly benefit the likes of Canal Point and Clipper Bay in addition to other areas such as the North South Golf Club and Crystal Harbour and would alleviate potential traffic flow problems.

  4. Wow , so people do realize that sea level is rising. Then wouldn’t it be prudent to fill in the swamp? I mean ,if we don’t and we preserve all the swampland in the world . Will it stop the sea level from rising? Do you have proof? Then we should fill while limestone is cheaper.
    Property on Cayman Islands had 8 feet of storm surge on all three islands, correct right? There is very little swamp developed in the smaller islands less then 1% say. So they still had storm surge in Paloma and in 1932, right? So wasn’t there more damage from north wester storms in the past ? Didn’t they build the walls along GT because the natural path of the coast allowed sea water to go across the General Post Office?
    Then why are you all trying to tell people that filling in lowland ( the swamp) is bad ?
    My proof is the history of these islands .

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