The $1.8 million road-widening project on Smith Road that started in July will not be finished until late October.
When complete, the project will add a turn lane to the present two-lane blacktop and feature sidewalks spanning the entire 3,000 feet of Smith Road – from the intersection of Crewe and Smith roads, Huldah Avenue and Bobby Thompson Way, to the four-way stop outside the Cayman Islands Hospital.
“What we’re doing is widening the road, putting sidewalks along the left side as you head toward the four-way stop,” said National Roads Authority Senior Engineer Edison Jackson.
The project is scheduled to be carried out in three 1,000-foot phases. The first phase extends from the stoplight at the Crewe Road intersection to Hope Drive, adjacent to the Hymie Building. The second section is from Hope Drive to Anthony Drive, the entrance to Windsor Park at Pasadora Place. The final segment runs from Anthony Drive to the four-way stop at Hospital Road and the new Tomlinson Building.
“The first phase is done,” Mr. Jackson said. “Today or tomorrow [Tuesday or Wednesday], though, things should get better because we’ll be out of the ‘heavy’ section between Huldah and Hope Drive,” completing excavation and most of the rebuilding on the most crowded sections of the road.
He said the project had not started earlier in the year – to avoid construction during the busy school year – chiefly because of two issues: permission to use private land, and utilities.
“We were planning to start earlier, but we had problems with getting utilities relocated and land acquisition at the four-way end.
“We realized about the school days and the work, but we wanted to get something done.”
Foul weather did not pose too great an obstacle, delaying only two or three days, Mr. Jackson said. “We had no major setbacks and managed to get it all sorted before the rain started.”
Efforts to relieve congestion in the first section of Smith Road have involved re-routing traffic bound for “Little” Prep, the primary school unit of Cayman Prep and High School.
Access to the parking lot at the front of the school – and the drop-off point at the rear – can now be gained from Bobby Thompson Way, turning west onto John Greer Boulevard, previously designed solely to feed apartment blocks behind Halfway Pond.
Mr. Jackson said school commuters can exploit a new spur connecting the boulevard to the Cayman Prep sports field.
He played down worries about mixing residential and school traffic during morning rush hours. “At 8 a.m., not many residents are returning home and at 3 p.m., 3:30 p.m.,” he said, drivers will experience little congestion.
The project is the start of a larger scheme that involves linking Humber Road – across Elgin Avenue from the Government Administration Building and offering access to parking behind the Immigration Department – to Smith Road.
However, lanners have hit delays in efforts to extend Humber Road from its dead-end at a small wooded area.
“We are waiting for Lands and Survey to settle compensation claims with three landowners,” said Edward Howard, deputy director at the NRA.
He was unable to predict a time frame. “It depends on the landowners. They will submit their claims to the government, and government will have its claims based on market value.”
The Humber Road link will run parallel with Hospital Road, meeting Smith Road approximately where Anthony Drive emerges.
“It’s always so much simpler to build a new road,” Mr. Howard said, lamenting lengthy legal and bureaucratic processes. “Lane-widening is a whole lot more.”