Perhaps the starkest illustration of the difference between how the public and private sectors do things (or don’t) in the Cayman Islands is the Esterley Tibbetts Highway.
The stretch of the road between Camana Bay and the Butterfield roundabout, and the expansion of it from two lanes to four lanes, is an ongoing “public-private partnership” between the Cayman Islands Government and the Dart Group. Each has agreed to pay for one-half of the road — Dart from Camana Bay to Lakeside Apartments, and government from there to the roundabout.
It couldn’t be clearer where Dart’s half of the expansion project ends, and government’s begins: Dart broke ground on its half months ago, and has cleared and leveled the area where the new lanes will go. We are amazed, and have been from the outset, at how fast the work has progressed on this future thoroughfare.
Meanwhile, on the government’s end, officials have just recently finalized the financial arrangements.
For his part, Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts told the Legislative Assembly last week that government needs to get going on its half of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway project. “It is unfair to expect the road to get that far and not be finished,” he said.
Minister Tibbetts also highlighted the importance of unclogging the traffic bottleneck on the other side of George Town, by widening the Linford Pierson Highway from two to four lanes.
More broadly speaking, in recent years the country’s track record on infrastructure development has also been “a tale of two halves,” with a night-and-day difference between traffic trends north of George Town, and east of it.
Thanks to Dart’s extension of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway all the way into West Bay, commuters from the north have been able to zip through the Seven Mile Beach area — until of course, the number of lanes narrows from four to two near Camana Bay. At that point, motorists begin to suffer from the same sort of gridlock that plagues commuters from the east (and increasingly, from South Sound) basically from their doorsteps to office parking lots.
The good news underlying all of the traffic frustrations, of course, is that Grand Cayman is growing, in terms of population and economy. It’s the duty of government to ensure that our country’s infrastructure is able to keep pace with the country’s growth, and ideally, stay “one step ahead” to accommodate or even encourage future growth. That’s government’s responsibility, no matter what sort of infrastructure we’re talking about — transportation, telecommunications, electrical, sanitary, etc. — or who actually builds it, whether it’s a public agency or private entity or a public-private partnership.
In regard to the widening of the Esterley Tibbetts and Linford Pierson highways, Minister Tibbetts said those “are the projects that we have to complete, and we can’t take our time to do it.
“These are works that are absolutely necessary.”
We couldn’t agree more.