It is energizing to see so much orange around Grand Cayman. And no, we’re not talking about this year’s crop of mangos.
We’re talking about traffic cones.
Work began this week on a new mini roundabout at the junction of Crewe and Smith roads – an intersection which, frankly, could use a little “law and order.” The project also includes adding a center turn lane to a section of Crewe Road, as well as drainage improvements, curbs and sidewalks. Once that’s complete, we expect significant “detangling” of the twice-daily traffic “snarls” motorists have come to endure on that stretch of asphalt.
Then there’s the ongoing expansion of the Linford Pierson Highway, which will significantly lower commuters’ blood pressure by spreading traffic out across four lanes.
On the northern side of George Town, the even more grandiose expansion of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway is continuing to develop, with a recent milestone being the opening of the Dart Group’s three-lane roundabout and underpass. Dart’s project (which includes a second underpass on West Bay Road and will ultimately enable pedestrians to stroll freely from Camana Bay to Seven Mile Beach) right now may seem a bit overwhelming – even dizzying – but when completed should satisfy fundamental transportation infrastructure needs for that side of the island for years to come.
All of the above are welcome next steps in a series of important infrastructure improvements that the Progressives have been steadily tackling in the George Town area for the past several years. Past projects include the widening of Smith Road and Godfrey Nixon Way.
The requisite orange cones and detour signs may be temporary nuisances, but the recent (and pending) projects are necessary to alleviate more permanently the growing congestion on our relatively modest system of roads.
As motorists ourselves, we know that construction can be a source of frustration in the short term (by the way, kudos to the National Roads Authority for their decision to embark upon the Crewe-Smith project after the end of the school year), but adequate infrastructure is a necessity, not a luxury – ask any West Bay driver how much easier their morning commute has been made by the highway expansion there.
Even small projects, like the cut-through road from Smith Road to Elgin Avenue near the Government Administration Building, can allow traffic to flow far more freely and soothe drivers’ frazzled nerves.
The Progressives deserve credit for making infrastructure a priority – and treating it as such.
As Dart Real Estate President Jackie Doak has said about her company’s infrastructure investments, “Infrastructure is more than an economic stimulant; it’s a growth strategy for the Cayman Islands as a place where people want to live, visit and invest.”
Of course, there are only so many roads (by their nature hazardous, dirty and noisy) that our small island can accommodate comfortably.
Roads are only one component of a healthy transportation infrastructure. In addition to celebrating the (desirable) road projects that are either on tap or brewing, our leaders would be wise to look to dense cities and other small islands to see how they are grappling with traffic issues. As far as we’re concerned, all options should be up for consideration – including encouraging the ownership of fewer and/or smaller vehicles, investing significantly in robust public transit systems, etc.
In addition to simply building roads, building on what others have learned can help Cayman achieve an efficient and right-sized transportation infrastructure to ensure the road ahead leads to continued sustainable growth.