The National Roads Authority hopes to ease congestion on South Sound Road as demand grows from residential and commercial development, and increasing use as a rush-hour alternative to Linford Pierson Highway and Crewe Road.
Already, the growth of commuter traffic and unprecedented pace of development is stressing the two-lane blacktop, while Cayman Enterprise City will break ground on the first of two phase-one $25 million buildings in the second half of this year.
NRA Managing Director Paul Parchment said demand on the 15,000-foot road had grown nearly 66 percent since 2009, from 6,000 vehicles per day to 9,950 vehicles per day in 2015 in the vicinity of Crewe Road.
While the NRA recorded slightly slower growth in the vicinity of Walkers Road, the 8,600 trips per day translated to a 43 percent increase since 2009, he said.
The nearly 10,000 daily trips on South Sound Road split evenly eastbound and westbound, while “peak-hour distribution … is roughly 1,800 vehicles traveling westbound between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and roughly 1,100 vehicles traveling eastbound between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.,” Mr. Parchment said.
The crowded conditions occurred because the road “is not intended as a primary arterial roadway to move traffic to and from the schools and central business district.
“Approximately 30 percent of the traffic on South Sound Road is pass-through traffic as a consequence of lack of capacity on Linford Pierson and Crewe Road,” he said.
However, he added that the NRA was not “overly concerned with future traffic growth on South Sound Road. “The NRA is monitoring the progress and development closely and we work with the Planning Department to review all development applications,” he said.
Cindy O’Hara, chief development officer for CEC and Design Cayman Ltd., said the group planned groundbreaking, “in Q3 or Q4” 2016, on the first “gateway” office buildings, finishing construction in three years.
CEC officials, who already have Planned Area Development permission for the 70-acre site, are seeking approvals for the several subdivisions, which will ultimately cover between 800,000 square feet and 850,000 square feet of mixed-use development around a 10-acre lake.
The main entrance to the site, 1,000 feet by 3,000 feet, will be off Fairbanks Road, near the women’s prison, Ms. O’Hara said, “and we’ll need a road system in there.
There will be roundabouts and connectors in there, some will have to be added to the gazette,” while linking to the NRA’s extension of the East-West Arterial and a link to Agnes Way, across an expanded Linford Pierson Highway.
Senior Engineer Edison Jackson said the NRA was looking at its options: “Right now, we are looking at the Linford Pierson Bypass,” expanding it to four lanes. The highway and South Sound Road, he said, will ultimately intersect near CEC.
Gazetted long ago and informally dubbed “section 25,” the CEC corridor “has a lot of engineering work to be done,” Mr. Jackson said, assessing drainage, culverts, elevation, intersections, roundabouts, which all have to be completed “before full phasing.”
He was unable to say when work on the corridor might start: “We plan things some ways ahead, but it depends on CEC – and then we kick start [construction] as a national priority.”
In the meantime, small “fixes” will be implemented, smoothing access and traffic flows at various points. “We will do some engineering surveying of the road and see [if] we can add some measures in the interim,” he said.
Section 25 will intersect South Sound Road near The Boulevard – and developer Rene Hislop’s nine-acre development site, itself adjacent to a 40-acre site owned by China-based Datang Investments, who are building 30 condos and hoping for a phase two and phase three.
A shopping center is also planned for the area.
Paul Pearson, half of the executive team at Davenport Development, has sold all 56 one-, two- and three-bedroom condominiums at Vela I, moved half the second set of 56 at Vela II and is planning the third set at Vela III, which, he said, will not be released for sale until next year.
He pegs the population of Vela as high as 300 people.
Development was contingent upon the NRA, he said, which “does all the calculations, and you have to go to them for planning permission.” He and partner Ken Thompson had to give the authority 50 feet of their Vela property, another 50 feet at their San Sebastian property while their neighbors had to give up a similar 50 feet “for the NRA bypass.”
Stefan Baraud has sold all six of his condos at Baraud Development’s “ultra-high-end,” 16,800 square foot Shore Club, scheduled for a September opening.
Tania Knapik, sales and marketing coordinator for the NCB Group, says Tides, a 24-home, 1.6-acre beachfront development, is set to break ground in June on a site adjacent to the South Sound cemetery, finishing in September 2017.
Already, eight units have sold, and Ms. Knapik described heavy interest in another four.
Other developments in the area include Adagio Community Development, immediately west of Old Crewe Road, a 91-acre residential development with 20 lots for multi-family condos; and Bel Air, an eight-condo residential project.