Road works seeking to widen and improve connections to two key roads in the central George Town area are scheduled to begin within the next month, according to the National Roads Authority.
The first stretch, along Godfrey Nixon Way is set to start next week, National Roads Authority director Paul Parchment confirmed Monday. Meanwhile, road widening along Smith Road between Hospital Road and Bobby Thompson Way is due to get under way in early April, he said.
Maps describing the extent of the works on Smith Road were made public Friday. Public notices sent out by the roads authority involved more than 50 parcels of land in the immediate area that the authority has permission to enter and perform works upon. The permission for those works to proceed is granted 15 days after the notice was published in the Cayman Islands Gazette.
Smith Road will be widened to accommodate one lane going in each direction and a turning lane in the center of the road.
In addition, the map reveals how the government intends to connect Smith Road to Elgin Avenue. Two side roads that currently dead-end, Melrose Lane and Humber Lane will be extended to connect in the middle of what is now empty land just south of the Government Administration Building. The new road would allow drivers using the government’s open air parking lot behind the Immigration Department to exit directly onto Smith Road, rather than turning onto Elgin Ave.
Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts has said the roadworks are just part of government’s overall $27 million scheme to improve traffic flows in and out of Cayman’s capital and should assist in downtown revitalization efforts being proposed by the Progressives-led administration.
Improvements slated to begin within the current budget year, which ends on June 30, include connector roads from Elgin Avenue to Eastern Avenue, as well as the one from Elgin Avenue to Smith Road, and from the planned Godfrey Nixon Way extension to North Church Street.
Various improvements to Edward and Fort Streets downtown are also planned, in addition to the works on Godfrey Nixon and Smith Roads. Further inland in George Town, the expansion of Linford Pierson Highway is also being planned.
Ongoing traffic problems during Grand Cayman’s rush hour, particularly those affecting motorists in the eastern districts of Bodden Town, East End and North Side have been brought to the attention of the ruling government. Commerce Minister Wayne Panton discussed the issue during police public hearings last month.
Minister Panton said he believes the main culprit, aside from rapid development, appears to be the lack of “through-puts” for traffic once motorists arrive in George Town. Improvements to such roads as the East-West Arterial highway only serve to send more cars into the bottleneck at the capital, he said.
“Where we have the problem next is getting [traffic] down the Linford Pierson [Highway],” Mr. Panton said. “We’re going to be widening that to four lanes, and we’ll also widen Thomas Russell Avenue.
“But the reality is that this side of the island is growing. The problem of 2.7 cars per household is still there. So there are more cars out this way, more people out this way. I think that’s what some of the frustration is.”