Airport blast wall planned, wells drilled

This is one of several wells that were recently drilled to improve drainage on Crewe Road near the airport. - Photo: Mark Muckenfuss

Recently drilled wells are designed to keep the section of Crewe Road that skirts the end of the runway at Owen Roberts International Airport from flooding during heavy rains. The new wells are particularly important because plans for improving the airport’s runway call for filling in the ponds on both sides of the road that currently handle much of the overflow in such events.

The 100‑foot deep wells, marked by capped white pipes along the road, were sunk in recent weeks during nighttime operations. And a large concrete underground catch basin will be built in the coming weeks as part of the drainage system, said Edison Jackson, a senior engineer for the National Roads Authority.

“The airport now have plans to construct a new blast wall at the western end of the runway,” Jackson said. “The construction of the blast wall will involve filling in the existing ponds, which will no longer act as a soak away for stormwater.”

The airport runway improvement project, which also includes enlarging and strengthening the runway,is in the pre-construction phase. Bids on the project closed in May and officials are in the process of negotiating a contract, with construction expected to begin in October.

The blast wall portion is a slanted wall designed to deflect the energy and exhaust from jet engines as planes get ready for takeoff.

In an email, the Cayman Islands Airports Authority said the 10‑foot high blast wall “will begin on the southern end of the runway and wrap around the perimeter fence to approximately opposite the Mango Tree”.

Jackson said the addition of a left-hand turn lane at the newly constructed roundabout at Crewe Road and Printer Way required five additional wells on the east side of the road. The original plans for the project did not include the extra lane.

“With the implementation of that, we had to address the drainage,” he said, adding that the current overflow ponds are not always adequate. “That section has traditionally been [a flooding] issue.”

In addition to the wells – a total of 25 were established along the project’s length – and the catch basin, Jackson said, “We will be installing curbing to direct the road stormwater into the wells. Additionally, at the request of [airport officials] the NRA will be constructing a length of guardrail along a significant portion of the airport perimeter fence in that section.”

The work is part of a larger project connecting the Cayman National Bank roundabout to Crewe Road and widening the road between Printer Way and Dorcy Drive, which began last year. Jackson said construction should be completed in the next two months.

While the new wells may help keep the roadway clear and the extension may relieve some traffic congestion, it all may be short-lived.

Jackson said the Cayman Islands Airports Authority would like to eliminate cross traffic near the runway.

“We’re under constant pressure from the airport to close that road,” he said.