First island-wide traffic survey in 17 years hits the road

Vehicle data collection program will take a month to complete

Cars cross over a traffic monitoring recorder on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway on Wednesday. More than 150 of the devices are being placed on roads throughout Grand Cayman this month as part of a traffic survey initiative by the National Roads Authority. – PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY

The National Roads Authority has begun a traffic data survey to determine the number of cars on Grand Cayman’s roads.

The last time such an island-wide data collection program was undertaken was in 1999.

The survey began this week and is being carried out by Mexican engineering firm Servicios Mexicanos de Ingeniería Civil, SA de CV, whose staff will be on roadsides throughout this month holding clipboards and taking notes of traffic movements. The Mexican firm received the contract to provide these services following a bid process.

Motorists on some roads will already have noticed “automatic traffic recorders” in place. These black strips placed across roads record the number of vehicles passing over them.

During the survey, 152 of these recorders will be in place across the island.

In a press release issued Wednesday, National Roads Authority Board Chairman Donovan Ebanks said the board recognized that “in order to contribute effectively to the Government’s commitment to ‘build smart modern infrastructure,’ we needed to both garner better data and enhance our ability to use it.”

Mr. Ebanks added, “Unlike counterpart agencies such as CUC and the Water Authority who get monthly measures of their customers’ consumption, the NRA does not. Hence the need for us to collect comprehensive data, at least annually, on how many vehicles and what types are using our roads and going through our intersections and roundabouts.”

He said the information gathered in the survey would assist the NRA in its day-to-day planning and “will be a fundamental input into the traffic demand and traffic operational models that we are working towards bringing on line by the end of 2016.”

He added, “The combination of regular comprehensive counts and up-to-date traffic models are to transportation planning and road-network management what good blood and X-ray labs are to an emergency room and hospital.”

The data collection exercise is expected to be completed within a month, according to the NRA.

The authority has been seeking to do the traffic survey for a decade, but according to one official, speaking privately, has not had the resources until now.

“We should be doing this every couple of years, monitoring traffic,” he said, “so we can see where to add capacity and in what sectors.”

The survey will form a basis for greater analysis, he said, contributing “to a more extensive planning process.”