The Bible says “for lack of vision my people perish” and I find this often to be the case in Cayman, where we are afraid to think outside the box and just follow someone else or do the same thing over and over and expect different results. Bo Miller of blessed memory was a visionary and he was criticised endlessly, but at least he expressed his views openly and was never afraid to do so.
Folks, we have a major problem with traffic to and from the east, for residents and tourists alike – please spare a thought for families and our precious kids who have to rise up at ungodly hours to get to work and school in George Town. For a myriad of reasons, not least, funding and environmental concerns, it appears we will not be getting the extension from Hirst Road to Frank Sound anytime soon. A first-class bus service and holding depots (hub and spokes model) also seems a long way away, and there are still hundreds of vehicles being imported monthly. We have developed some of our best lands for road use, and this tiny two-by-four island has mega highways and Manhattan-style traffic. There is still no control of the number of cars per household, or who can own or import vehicles. There is hardly any decentralisation of essential services, no structured flex time, etc. It is not a pretty picture, and it appears no relief is in sight.
Well, at the risk of being laughed at, scoffed at, ridiculed by many and condemned by the environmentalists among us, has anyone spared a thought to bridge the North Sound? Before you start laughing, have you been to the Florida Keys, Bermuda, or other places that utilise bridges to good effect? You will see that these can be tolled to pay for themselves, provide great outlets for exercising – fishing, walking, running, skating, cycling, etc. – thereby creating a healthier community. I am not here to say where the access points should be in North Side or West Bay (experts can decide that), but I know it’s very doable. With adequate political will and private sector buy-in, this could be a winner for all. The environmental impact, to my mind, would be minimal after a cost benefit analysis. In the end, it may actually improve marine life around the structural bases. A nicely designed bridge would also be aesthetically pleasing to the eye from land and air. Consider the ride to and from work, the increased productivity of happier employees, and the list goes on.
This would provide not just an outlet for workers and school kids, but open up the east for more commerce and development of lands, something everyone says is needed. All in all, it would make Cayman a more user-friendly island for our motorists.
Note, I have no stake in this, and could possibly lose revenue at my business in Bodden Town because of it, but if it benefits Cayman and its people, it also benefits me in the end.
Make no mistake, the time to plan and design this won’t be any quicker than the other major alternatives or solutions, but this should be considered seriously as a part of the solution for the future, in my humble opinion. It will also require significant funding to construct and a public-private partnership would likely be the best route.
I have mooted this quietly for some time in and out of government with mixed reactions, so now let’s see what John Public thinks. I believe Bo, a born and bred North Sider, may have liked this idea.
Osbourne Bodden, JP