Traffic heading out of George Town is backed up during the evening rush hour. - Photo: Taneos Ramsay

Government plans to proceed with a 10-mile extension of the East-West Arterial Highway from next year, according to Infrastructure Minister Joey Hew.

The continuation of the road is considered key to easing rush hour congestion from the eastern districts.

A partnership with the developers of Ironwood, a planned Arnold Palmer golf resort near Frank Sound, was previously discussed for the road project. But those talks stalled and there have been no recent announcements on a likely timeline for the long-discussed resort.

Minister Hew said government plans to allocate money in the next budget cycle, for 2020 and 2021, toward the extension of the road.

“This is just the government taking it on at this time,” he said.

David Moffitt, of Ironwood, said the project was still in the works and he hopes to make some announcements shortly. He said Ironwood is still willing to participate in a partnership that promotes completion of the highway, “as long as it proves beneficial for all parties.”

Hew and senior National Roads Authority officials got a bird’s-eye view of Cayman’s traffic problems when they took a helicopter flight over the island during rush hour in December.

The minister said the flight had reinforced government’s view of what needed to be done.

“In some ways, it confirmed what we thought,” Hew said. “There is no other way to deal with the issue than to extend the East-West Arterial.”

He said there were some other quick fixes that the NRA was working on in the shorter term, to ease congestion caused by traffic joining Shamrock Road from residential neighbourhoods.

“There are just too many feeder roads coming on to the main road from Lower Valley and Beach Bay all the way back to Bodden Town,” he added.

Congestion on Cayman’s roads has steadily increased over the past few years. A journey from Prospect to George Town – 10 minutes on clear roads – can take up to 45 minutes in the morning as traffic comes to a virtual standstill.

Hew said extending the highway and tweaking key roundabouts in Prospect and next to Hurley’s supermarket would make a difference.

“The NRA are working feverishly to deal with the pinch points,” he added.

But he said government’s long-term goal was to reduce the number of cars on the road.

“There is going to come a point where there won’t be enough road to hold all the cars coming into town,” he said. “The long-term fix has to be better public transport and other alternatives.”

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  1. Of course, construction will resume now 2 years into the term just in time to have some work done next year to brag about in the next election, then the work will end again until the next election

    We have seen all of these tricks before
    Put the visible projects up before an election and then run on the ‘successes’ of the project so that people forget for the first 24 months little to nothing was done
    These are the same shenanigans they pull when it comes to legislation too, go for the first three and a half years barely calling the House to session then rush back in 3 months before the election and try to pass dozens of bills in a week or two headlined by a few popular changes hiding the ugly stuff in the back and hoping the lethargic media and opposition doesn’t bother looking too closely at the details

  2. Not to mention the fact that didn’t the say the first phase of the project would alleviate the problem, because the issue has never been worse

    Building roads is not the solution to traffic, limit new vehicle importations, limit the amount of cars that can be owned by a single household, or jack up the fees, invest in public transportation that is more than a couple minibuses and the problem would actually stop progressively getting worse as the population grows
    Shortsighted road extensions don’t solve the issue, they just create new clogs at different areas

  3. We have a large number of tour buses that could help the situation now. While building roads and highways now. But collecting fares from passengers causes problems in the Public bus industry. If people were given a bus pass and buses were given a route it could go a lot smoother. We don’t want what we see now a bunch of buses chasing and cutting in and out of traffic and stopping anywhere to pick up passengers. Therefore pay buses money per hour. It has been a sore point for passengers who come by cruise ships and know that public buses are less than tour buses going to the beach. That public buses go off routes because it is more profitable to pick up tourists and leave locals standing to wait. Make passengers buy a bus pass and once a ride tickets. No money, then you will see the difference in the roads.