After years of hitting road bumps, speed limit changes on a number of roads across Grand Cayman will go into effect Monday.
Changes include reducing the speed limit along part of West Bay Road to 25 mph.
Road officials started reviewing proposals for speed limit changes in 2013, launching a public consultation process on the topic. In 2014, a plan was submitted to Cabinet, but more than a year passed before Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts announced that speed limit changes would take effect in May 2015.
That deadline passed, and officials said the changes would happen in September 2015. In January, officials said the speed limit changes were delayed as they would be packaged with other amendments to the traffic law.
On Wednesday, the National Roads Authority along with fellow members of the Traffic Management Panel (which also includes the Ministry of Planning, the Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing and the police), announced in a press release that the proposed speed limit changes would take effect Monday.
“The TMP has strongly considered all comments and concerns,” officials said in the press release.
One notable change is the reduction of the speed limit on West Bay Road from central George Town to Public Beach to 25 mph, down from the current speed limit of 40 mph.
There have been several serious traffic accidents, some involving pedestrians, along West Bay Road in the Seven Mile Beach area.
In April last year, a 16-year-old tourist suffered life-threatening injuries when he was struck by a minivan as he was crossing the road near the Marriott resort.
In December, a 68-year-old tourist was seriously injured after being hit by a pickup truck near Peppers Restaurant.
Businesses along West Bay Road welcomed the reduced speed limit.
“We are always concerned for the safety of our guests and members of the public when crossing the busy West Bay Road,” said Comfort Suites manager Tom Mason. “The cut-off from West Bay Road onto Piper Way outside of Coconut Joe’s is always a concern due to the low levels of lighting at the intersection, which make it difficult for drivers to see tourists who can tend to be unaware of their surroundings and also who are not used to the direction that the traffic comes from.
“Perhaps a lower speed limit in this busy area will help [to] ensure the safety for both the motorist[s] and the general pedestrian public as a whole.”
Coconut Joe’s manager Dave Chowtee said he frequently sees cars speeding along West Bay Road as if they are on a racetrack.
“I think the change will be a really positive one,” he said.
The speed limit will also be reduced on Austin Connolly Drive in East End, from the east of John McLean Drive near Morritt’s Tortuga Club and Royal Reef Resort, from 50 mph to 35 mph.
On Crewe Road between the Silver Oaks roundabout and the DMS roundabout and on Shamrock Road in Red Bay between Selkirk Drive and the Dr. Tomlinson roundabout, the speed limit will be lowered from 40 mph to 30 mph.
Some of the speed limit changes will allow traffic to speed up along various roads. The speed limit will increase from 25 mph to 30 mph in various sections of roads in West Bay, including parts of North West Point Road, Town Hall Road, Batabano Road and Rev Blackman Road.
The speed limit will also increase from 25 mph to 30 mph on Hirst Road in Savannah and on Anton Bodden Road, and from 25 mph to 35 mph on North Sound Road/Thomas Russell Way from Bobby Thompson to the Butterfield roundabout, and the Esterley Tibbetts connection to Willie Farrington Drive.
New speed limit signs reflecting the changes will be up by Monday.
One road left out of the speed limit changes is Frank Sound Road. An International Roads Assessment Programme survey released last year found that Frank Sound Road was particularly hazardous for motorists, motorcycle riders, pedestrians and cyclists, and cited the high speed limit on that road – 50 mph – as a problem.
National Roads Authority transportation planner Marion Pandohie said the traffic management panel considered lowering the speed limit on Frank Sound Road, but “it was not politically desirable given that it would add to motorists’ travel time to and from George Town.”