The Central Planning Authority has rejected the Dart group’s plan to expand the length of an overpass it is building on West Bay Road.

Representatives from the Dart group appeared before the CPA Wednesday in an effort to allay fears that the overpass would restrict beach access and cause traffic management issues, including access concerns for oversized vehicles. The National Roads Authority had objected to the proposal, saying there was not sufficient justification for the extension.

Though CPA chair A. L. Thompson described some of the NRA’s objections as “peculiar,” given that the roads authority had supported the initial tunnel application, planning officials confirmed Wednesday evening that the extension had been rejected.

The full reasons were not available at press time and are not likely to be available until a written decision is published next week.

A spokesperson for Dart said the company was awaiting the CPA’s official rationale for the decision before deciding its next steps.

Dart had been seeking to expand the length of the overpass, on West Bay Road, by another 195 feet. Permission was granted earlier this year, with the support of the NRA, for a 406-foot overpass, part of Dart’s plan to link its properties on Seven Mile Beach with Camana Bay.

Work on the tunnel is nearing completion, with the beams bridging the road put in place over the past few weeks.

For pedestrians, the new tunnel under the West Bay Road overpass includes a walkway. – PHOTO: TANEOS RAMSAY

The new application seeks to expand the overpass toward the Royal Palms Beach Club. Dart Real Estate announced it had purchased the site occupied by the Royal Palms in September.

The NRA supported the initial application but objected to the extension, arguing in written advice to the CPA that the developer had not provided sufficient justification to show that it was necessary.

It also highlighted issues with traffic management, including the difficulty of moving large pieces of equipment through the tunnel.

Christine Maltman, a senior manager at Dart, told the board the developer had always envisaged a 601-foot overpass. She said negotiations over the acquisition of the Royal Palms site had taken longer than expected, preventing the original application from including the full length of the tunnel.

Alex Russell, Dart’s senior manager for design, said the purpose of the overpass was to create “connectivity” and to allow for building over the road, extending Camana Bay from the North Sound to Seven Mile Beach.

He said it was too early to say what type of buildings would go over the road and Dart was still developing its “master plan” for the area.

Ms. Maltman said she could not explain the NRA’s opposition to the extension.

“I am not sure why their memo contained some of the things it did, especially since they fully approved the original application,” she said.

The NRA’s memo, released with the agenda papers to the meeting, argued that it should be the final decision-making authority on the application and concluded, “Ultimately, there is no justifiable reason or need to extend the tunnel and the NRA Board’s decision is not to approve the application.”

Mr. Thompson suggested at the meeting that some of the NRA’s concerns, particularly about the height of the tunnel, should have been raised earlier.

The Dart group applied to extend the length of the tunnel it is building on West Bay Road. – Photo: taneos Ramsay

“We are not talking about something that hasn’t already been done,” he said. “We are talking about an extension here and, quite frankly, some of the comments by the NRA should have been made when the application was first presented.”

Mr. Russell said there were three “clear to the sky” routes through Camana Bay that could be used for vehicles carrying equipment that could not fit through the tunnel, though he suggested this would be a rare occurrence.

Dart representatives also attempted to address concerns raised by citizens about rights of way to the beach.

Dart acknowledges that the overpass, at its extended 601-foot length, cuts off access to two paths to Seven Mile Beach. It proposed removing and consolidating these into one larger path along the Royal Palms property. The CPA requires developers provide a six-foot access path for every 200 feet of land. Dart proposed consolidating that into a single 12-foot wide access across the length of its property.

Alice Mae Coe and Ezmie Smith of the Concerned Citizens Group, which has fought a long-running campaign to preserve beach access, were among the members of the public at the meeting Wednesday.

Ms. Smith said she felt consolidating the beach accesses was not adequate.

“The CPA, according to the planning regulations, has a duty to protect and safeguard public access to the beach and we hope they will do that” she said.

Section 20 of the 2015 planning regulations states, “It is the duty of the Authority to ensure that the open character of scenic shoreline land is preserved, in particular that of the beaches, and also to safeguard the public’s right to use the beaches and to gain access to them through public rights of way.”

45
8

10 COMMENTS

  1. I can well understand the need for a pedestrian passage from Camana Bay over West Bay Rd.
    I cannot understand why this would need to be more that 10 ft wide, let alone 400-600 feet.

    Just more ugliness along our prized seven mile beach.

    In the meantime I have noticed that work has just about stopped on the double carriageway road from Camana Bay to the A L Thompson roundabout. How about finishing that project first please.

    40

    0
  2. Section 20 of the 2015 planning regulations states, “It is the duty of the Authority to ensure that the open character of scenic shoreline land is preserved, in particular that of the beaches, and also to safeguard the public’s right to use the beaches and to gain access to them through public rights of way.”

    Beware those who come bearing gifts…nothing in the life’s for free.

    Now that Dart’s full plan is being revealed, the potential for Dart to ‘own’ the 7-Mile Beach tourist mecca of Cayman couldn’t be more clear.

    These two ladies and their group, the Concerned Citizens had every right to be concerned when the NRA made the original agreement to ‘swap’ the West Bay coastal road for an in-land highway, with Dart getting their Kimpton Hotel right next to the public beach as their part of the deal.

    Great highway, by the way.

    Now, with the purchase and plans to build another hotel on the Royal Palms site and extend this overpass…and the Caymana Bay ‘new city’ over to the existing West Bay Road, the ownership of the ‘strip’ couldn’t be more real than if contracts had been signed, turning it over to the Dart corporation.

    Is this really what Caymanians want for their country ?

    32

    2
  3. Run for you life! Oops, there’s nowhere to run.
    This long narrow roadway presents little area for pedestrians to run in the event of an out of control vehicle heading their way, or even for other motor vehicles to escape their path.

    What happens when an out of control cement truck, or out of control fully loaded dump truck careens through this long, narrow tunnel? What happens when these is road repair or underground utility maintenance in this excessively large space?

    Finally, is there a lease agreement between Dart and the CIG relating to the government owned roadway that the overpass occupies? While I generally appreciate the work of Dart, this is total over reach, in my opinion.

    23

    1
  4. Well said all three of you have hit the nail on the head . And who would want to be a pedestrian walking or riding breathing exhaust fumes in that tunnel ? We all know how well some are maintained on the Island. Why do we even need that tunnel bypass ? I will leave the rest of this comment for the Dart Group to figure out .

    14

    1
    • Since no one is answering the question, why do we need that tunnel bypass ? I think that the reason for the tunnel is that Dart has the intention to build on top of it . What I am seeing and reading about this tunnel . The foundation and all the steel and the kind of steel that is put in gives me the opinion that that tunnel would be able to withstand any hurricane force winds . So if the tunnel is hurricane proof and he build up more hurricane proof buildings on top . How would Planning be able to refuse the planns ? But what a view that those houses would have and beach access because Dart owns that too and what a price tag could be put on those houses .
      Then again why do we need such a structure like that on the Island ? There you go again not thinking about the future because man has never been able to make anything that mother nature can’t take down .

      2

      0
  5. While Dart’s past works have done much for the country, just beware: If the Cayman Islands isn’t careful, Dart will soon be running the whole darn show. Is that what this country wants? Remember, the best friend of consumers and residents is always COMPETITION. Put another way, people are NEVER well served when one outfit owns eveything.

    14

    1
    • On the other hand no-one can compete with quality of the work done by the Dart Enterprises. They don’t take shortcuts. They don’t lack foresight either.
      I am sure they would re-work their project to preserve beach access to everyone’s satisfaction.

      And if you don’t want to breathe fumes, don’t walk through the tunnel.

      3

      8
      • Sorry but I just can’t agree with this.
        There is no doubt that Dart always does quality work. But the ultimate beneficiary is always Dart.

        What possible benefit is this long tunnel across West Bay Road to the people of Cayman and our visitors?
        And why should anyone walking along West Bay Road have to take a detour to avoid breathing in fumes?

        12

        2
  6. Mark , you have made some very good points . What i don’t understand why Dart and other developers and the Government is developing every sq inch of the Island today and not thinking about the future generations .
    I have to think that it’s very greedy and selfish the way i see the Island been developed with no consideration for the future of the Island .
    And no one is thinking about the future. What IF the Islands Economy went belly up then all this development is done and all the expats left the Islands to find work . what would the Islands look like then ? NOT very attractive to potential Investors /Developers. But they don’t care because they made it all today .

    6

    1

LEAVE A REPLY