The Esterley Tibbetts highway will be expanded to four lanes along the full length of the route within the next 18 months after government and developer Dart Realty confirmed they had finalized the outstanding details of the National Roads Authority agreement.
The deal also involves the US$14.6 million purchase by the Dart group of the Dragon Bay lands on the North Sound, previously held by the developer on a long-term leasehold agreement that still had 75 years remaining.
The highway project involves the expansion of the road to four lanes between Camana Bay and the Butterfield Roundabout, next to the A.L. Thompson’s store.
The stretch of road is currently a bottleneck for traffic, causing congestion during morning and evening rush hours.
Dart will construct and fund the expansion as far south as the Lakeside apartments, where a new roundabout is planned to provide additional access to the Cayman International School and link to a future airport connector road.
The $8.5 million cost of completing the expansion beyond the Lakeside apartments will be borne by the government, though the Dart group has agreed to do the work.
The developer is already working on a previously approved first phase of the expansion, which involves re-routing the highway through Camana Bay, via a new four-lane stretch slightly to the west of the existing road. That project involves the creation of two new underpasses which will ultimately allow the developer to expand Camana Bay across broad landscaped bridges, linking the town center to a new hotel development on Seven Mile Beach.
Jackie Doak, chief operating officer of Dart Realty, said, “The expansion of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway as a four-lane bypass from Batabano Road in West Bay to the Butterfield roundabout in George Town represents a major achievement in government’s plan for roads infrastructure to accommodate Cayman’s current and forecast growth.”
She said the developer had “meaningful conversations” with government about the timing of construction of the new airport connector road, but it is not an immediate priority for either party.
The final piece in the NRA agreement involves the purchase, by Dart, of the Dragon Bay lands north of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman property, including the site of the North Sound golf course. Dart acquired the long-term leasehold on the land from Ritz-Carlton developer Mike Ryan and had been seeking to convert the arrangement to freehold ownership.
Ms. Doak said development of that piece of land had been inhibited by the leasehold arrangement for many years.
She said the interest in Crystal Harbor and Vista Del Mar showed there was high demand and limited inventory in the area.
Dart Realty initially plans to sell home lots around the golf course and is working on an overall master plan for the entire site, which could also include condominium development.
In his Strategic Policy Statement to the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, Premier Alden McLaughlin said government was getting a good price for the land and would continue to benefit from stamp duty as plots were sold.
“Dart has committed to developing the property and Government will make revenue from property sales and development as a result,” he said.