50 years ago: Road safety comes into question

NEW Bodden-50-years-logo-final-595x420In the July 13, 1966 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a precursor of the Cayman Compass, Bodden Town correspondent Haig Bodden wrote:

“The western entrance to Bodden Town is marked by one of nature’s little quirks, Guard House Hill. The old road was beset with two boulders resembling the Pillars of Hercules at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea.

“For some inexplicable reason, the engineers who built the new road could not widen this gap. Instead they built, at an astronomical cost, the most hazardous section of road there is in Grand Cayman. A narrow serpentine track, overlooking stupendous precipices somehow managed to get the surveyors’ approval, and today remains as a death trap.

“Eight accidents, two of them being collisions, have already occurred at this site.

“A couple of years ago, there was a big stir about improving this section of the road. Our representatives fought hard and noisily and I believe even attracted the attention of the Road Board. However, this death alley remains as dangerous as ever. It is only a matter of luck that no one has received injuries here, but the stage is all set for a gruesome tragedy.

“The road needs to be widened another ten feet. A steel or concrete rail should be erected at the edges. It will take a lot of money to do all this. Establish a toll gate and charge three shillings for each vehicle passing through it, and in 35 years the road will pay for itself. Future generations would have a safe road without stretching the national debt.

“Present day measures are necessary to make this bend safe. Tourists who frequent this road ought to be considered. Remember that the foot of this hill is often approached at 50 miles per hour. There are no signs or ‘Sharp bend ahead’ notices to warn motorists unfamiliar with the area.

“Someone who lives around here mentioned that they were alarmed to see a tourist coming out of the dead end Manse Road, and almost going into a five ton truck. There is no stop sign at the junction of the Manse Road and the highway, and it is likely that an unwary motorist will plunge into oncoming traffic. Because of the terrain the view here is often obscured.

“Most of the natives know that Guard House means unguarded, but how can foreigners know when they reach this point?

“This article is not intended to criticize the inertia shown toward this situation, but it is written in the hope that the motoring public will be sufficiently alerted to their perils, and will continue to agitate for improvements.

“A final warning – beware the little ridge which has recently been humped across the top of the hill. Any car which hits that springboard at fifty miles an hour will surely take a dive into the deep beyond.”