Road opening marks step toward cutting commute times

Edward Howard removes traffic cones to officially open the expanded road.

The $10.6 million dollar first phase of the Linford Pierson Highway widening project is now complete and could help slash commute times in half, according to National Roads Authority officials.

The expansion of the mile-long stretch of highway, between the Silver Oaks roundabout and a new roundabout at Agnes Way, took just over two years and involved the relocation of two homes.

In total government spent $7.1 million on construction and $3.5 million on compensating people whose land was taken for the project. It is part of an ongoing effort to upgrade Grand Cayman’s road network to cope with significant increases in traffic as the population has grown in the past two decades.

Officials are finalizing negotiations on land acquisitions for phase two of the Linford Pierson project, which will expand the road to four lanes right through to the intersection with Bobby Thompson Way in George Town.

An impasse between government and the owners of a horse riding school over plans to route part of the road through its land had been holding up progress on that aspect of the highway expansion. Infrastructure Minister Joey Hew said he believed the National Roads Authority was now close to an amicable agreement with the school.

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Mr. Hew said the completion of the project was an important part of planned upgrades to Cayman’s infrastructure.

The average number of daily trips along the Linford Pierson Highway has increased from 13,000 per day to 21,000 per day in the 15 years since it was built, according to Edward Howard, acting managing director of the NRA.

He said the road had been built with capacity to expand and could go up to six lanes if necessary.

Infrastructure Minister Joey Hew said the project was part of an ongoing upgrade to cope with increased traffic. – PHOTOS: JAMES WHITTAKER

Mr. Howard believes the work done on phase one is already impacting traffic flow, citing reports from motorists that their commute times had been cut in half.

Mr. Hew said he believed the road would provide a huge relief for people traveling into town from the eastern districts.

“I think we will see the proof in the pudding when school reopens,” he added.

“We will be completing the works on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway within a week or two as well, which will help with those coming in from West Bay.”

Further work is planned to widen and enhance Crewe Road while the NRA is investigating ways to improve traffic flow at the Grand Harbour roundabout – a choke point for traffic coming from the east.

The next major project for the NRA is the extension of Elgin Avenue, which will see construction of a new two-lane roundabout connection to Printers Way and Crewe Road.

Edward Howard, acting managing director of the NRA, said the road widening project could halve commute times from the eastern districts.

Mr. Hew said government was doing everything it could to improve the road network but he acknowledged building new roads was not a sustainable longterm solution if the island continues to grow.

“I love this beautiful new road but I also love that we have bike lanes and pedestrian access. We have to start encouraging our residents to start carpooling, using bikes, even motorized bikes. We can’t keep building and widening roads and have families with five or six cars and everyone going to the same place.”

He said he hoped to work with Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell to get a public transport study done and come up with innovative solutions to manage traffic growth going forward.

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  1. Big wow! What happens when all this “faster moving” traffic reaches the junction at Bobby Thompson Way/Smith Road or the junction at Jose’s Rubis station? Gridlock again. Not the mention the potential mess which is now being created with a new junction near the Mango Tree restaurant/Crewe Road, so close to “dysfunction junction” at Kirk Motors/Airport Road. What progress?

    Other observations which could do with explanations from the NRA.
    (1). The section of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway approaching the Butterfield Roundabout is presently seeing continuing road construction. To be noted is that some lanes which were recently paved (with approx 4″ of expensive hot-mix) are now being ripped up to be repaved. For real? Clearly those expensive sections were temporary. Why couldn’t the process be done so that the permanent paving was done one time? The public accepted the delays and inconvenience seeing the obvious need – a few weeks more would not have caused that much more inconvenience. Instead they put down temporary hot-mix, only to rip it up a few weeks later!!??

    Why are we, the public, paying twice for sections of new road to be created?

    (2). Every so often utility companies dig up sections of existing road to enable their necessary processes. Curiously, they seem to wait until road sections have been repaired/renewed before they dig their trenches or install their junction boxes. Why then don’t they repair the road to the condition which they found? Why do we have to drive on “dips” or “lumps” in the roads after utility “repairs”? Doesn’t NRA have specific standards of road surface repairs to be met? Is there no one in NRA who monitors this? Do no other “powers-that-be” see this? One could wonder if our politicians drive on the same roads as the rest of us!

    (3). When cement companies spill wet concrete on roadways from their delivery trucks, why aren’t they required to clean up same? There aren’t that many companies so culprits could be identified, especially in areas where there are cameras. In any case, why can’t clean-ups be done by NRA water trucks before the concrete hardens on the roads and identification and accountability follow afterwards?

    NRA, answers please!