Smith Road work nearly done

Linford Pierson Highway next for ‘revitalization’

Work to widen Smith Road through central George Town should be wrapped up by the end of this month, weather permitting, officials with the National Roads Authority confirmed Friday. 

The next major road improvement in the George Town revitalization project is scheduled to be the widening of Linford Pierson Highway, which will begin once work on Smith Road is completed. The schedule for the project, to take the LPH from two lanes to four, has not been confirmed. Work on widening Godfrey Nixon Way was completed earlier this year. 

Premier Alden McLaughlin said last week that work on road projects throughout central George Town would continue into 2016 “to take away traffic from the waterfront and town center.” 

A number of smaller roadwork projects through town are expected in the coming months. 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 Avenue. 

Other works slated to begin this budget year – which ends on June 30, 2016 – 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. 

Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts has said the road construction is 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 proposed by the Progressives-led administration. 

The overall George Town revitalization program is only partly based on traffic management, Premier McLaughlin said. 

“[The revitalization will] include the introduction of mixed-use buildings in the town center,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “Part and parcel of a renewed downtown George Town [are] cruise-ship berthing and enlarged cargo facilities. The renewal of George Town will help bring businesses, jobs and added opportunities back to our capital.” 

The area of concentration for the revitalization encompasses a few square miles between Godfrey Nixon Way and Eastern Avenue, west to North Church Street up to the Da Fish Shack restaurant, extending south to Elgin Avenue and then down South Church Street to Eden Rock. The general principles being explored are “walkability and connectivity.” 

The plan proposes to close off certain areas of downtown George Town to vehicle traffic. The premier’s “mixed use” remarks refer to the development of building plans for commercial shops on the bottom floors and residential or office space above. Very few residents currently live in the town center. 

To ease transport, the plan also considers the creation of trolley routes, allowing pedestrians to hop on one of the cars and travel to their intended destination. 

All of the works proposed or just being discussed at this stage would not be completed during the Progressives-led government’s current term. 

“The public, including the business sector, will shortly be asked to add their voices to what is being proposed so we can have a plan that will provide true economic and social renewal for George Town,” Mr. McLaughlin said. 

The road-widening project on Smith Road has been causing issues for motorists, but work is nearly complete, officials say. - PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY
The road-widening project on Smith Road has been causing issues for motorists, but work is nearly complete, officials say. – PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY


  1. Government should be careful about removing vehicles from roads in town to make streets more walkable. Nobody walks in Cayman. By making streets pedestrian only, you remove the local market from commercial businesses on streets. Instead, such infrastructure needs to be layered, not pedestrian only. Add sidewalks to streets that don’t have them to expose more people (pedestrians and cars) to commercial strips. Think of Cardinal Avenue on a Thursday when the street is shutdown to car traffic: does this bring more business to that street? No. Instead CIG should be making streets more like Madison Avenue in New York – the busiest commercial strip in the US, which has both cars and pedestrians.

    Plans to make Harbour Front Road one-way or pedestrian only, does the same thing and also kills the thru traffic town currently has. There’s a huge amount of rushhour traffic that uses this road in town. Remove this and you seriously make town less-busy. It’s a shame that waterfront roads keep getting moved inland -isn’t part of island life about catching beautiful views during our daily life?

    A qualified, unbiased urban planner will tell you the same thing and more. CIG should hire one to understand that such plans will hollow out the downtown center and make it less accessible to residents.

  2. Harbour Drive, Cardinal Avenue, and Fort Street comprise arterial routes in the current George Town traffic network. Closing any of these produces traffic gridlock during morning and evening rush hours as we have seen countless times in the past.Credible alternative routes, which can cater for much increased traffic, need to be detailed for local motorists for whom "trolleys" are not a viable option.