Minister: GT road projects ‘absolutely necessary’

Rows of rebar being installed for the Esterley Tibbetts Highway vehicular underpass create a striking visual.

Road widening projects along George Town’s Esterley Tibbetts Highway and Linford Pierson Highway must be completed in short order unless residents want to suffer through the traffic troubles seen a decade ago in the outer districts, Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts said last week.

Along the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, the Dart group of companies has committed to widening the now two-lane stretch of road to four lanes between Camana Bay and a proposed new roundabout just north of the Lakeside apartments. Government is expected to fund the remainder of the two-lane road expansion from Lakeside to the Butterfield roundabout.

The new roundabout in the middle of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, Mr. Tibbetts said, is planned to provide a cut-through for motorists traveling from the Owen Roberts International Airport who want to bypass the Industrial Park.

If the Dart group completes its part of the expansion long before the government-funded section is done, commuters heading into and out of town along the Esterley Tibbetts Highway’s two-lane stretch of road between Lakeside and the Butterfield roundabout will encounter bottlenecks.

“It is unfair to expect the road to get that far and not be finished,” Mr. Tibbetts said.
Traffic jams are already plaguing drivers coming from the eastern side of the island, who merge into one lane on the Linford Pierson Highway after passing Tropical Gardens, Mr. Tibbetts said.

The Linford Pierson Highway is also proposed to be expanded to four lanes.

“The traffic in the eastern districts is now at the point where they’re experiencing the difficulty that they used to experience … before the East-West Arterial was built,” Mr. Tibbetts said.

Kurt Tibbetts
Kurt Tibbetts

The two road widening projects “are the projects that we have to complete and we can’t take our time to do it,” the minister said.

“These are works that are absolutely necessary.”
The government has budgeted about $3.4 million for islandwide road construction in the upcoming 2016/17 budget proposal.

The National Roads Authority will oversee both lane expansion projects in George Town, although the Dart group plans to hire its own construction firm to complete the work, Mr. Tibbetts said.

There are other, less substantial roadworks planned in George Town which Mr. Tibbetts said would create “proper interconnectivity” as part of the downtown district’s revitalization. The Linford Pierson and Esterley Tibbetts Highway widening projects will allow traffic to get in and out of the downtown area more easily, the minister said.

Other road changes in downtown George Town as part of the revitalization will make some traffic lanes one-way only and close other roads to vehicle traffic entirely, Mr. Tibbetts said.

“But you can’t do that unless you create other avenues that the traffic can get in and out of where they’re going,” he said.