Minister of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure, Hon. Joey Hew, recently (Monday, September 16), convened an emergency interagency meeting to discuss solutions to the traffic congestion issues affecting the Eastern Districts across Grand Cayman.
Attendees at the meeting included representatives of the Ministry of Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure, Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands, Department of Education, National Roads Authority, Portfolio of the Civil Service and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.
“With the growth of communities in the Eastern District, increase in number of cars on our roads and adjustment of school start times have come challenges such as increasing traffic volumes and congestion, increasing travel times, and growing road safety issues. These are affecting the quality of life of our people and I have therefore asked the relevant stakeholders to find short and medium term solutions as we continue on track with some of our long term plans,” states Minister Hew.
As part of these efforts, the Ministry of Education Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands will move to have discussions with the Private Schools’ Association to explore the use of a school bus system for the over 4000 private school students who are dropped off and picked up for school on a daily basis.
In addition, Chief Officer of the Portfolio of the Civil Service, Ms. Gloria McField-Nixon states that her agency will encourage the hundreds of civil servants operating within the Government Administration Building to consider the Work Hour’s policy which allows for staggered work hours.
She emphasises, “We will remind managers of the 2012 Policy and have them encourage wider take up of the existing offerings, including by those departments not operating from the Government Administration Building, where feasible”.
Some of the immediate plans being undertaken by the National Roads Authority (NRA) to address the traffic congestion in the Eastern Districts include the reversing of the travel lane capacity along Marina Drive and provisions for Prospect Drive area to have two lanes westbound. This will be implemented in mid-October.
Two other projects expected to start this month are the widening of Rex Crighton Boulevard and Shamrock Road. The Rex Crighton project will involve the expansion of the existing east and west bound travel lanes between the Poindexter Road Roundabout and the Chrissie Tomlinson Roundabout, where the section of the roadway will have four lanes.
Shamrock Road will be widened into six lanes with the initial focus on developing a westbound third lane between Red Bay Roundabout and Grand Harbour Roundabout.
Ongoing work to ease traffic congestions is currently taking place on the Mango Tree Connector, Olympic Way and Island Heritage Roundabout.
Some of the long terms projects which are expected to start before the end of the year include: the planned extension of the Airport Connector Road from the roundabout to the George Town landfill on Esterley Tibbetts Highway to Sparky Drive in the North Sound area, extension of Godfrey Nixon Way and the East-West Arterial from Hirst Road to Lookout Road in Bodden Town.
The NRA is currently in discussions with the National Conservation Council about the East-West Arterial route.
Minister Hew reminded attendees at the meeting that while various solutions are being considered to address the traffic problems, a holistic approach has to be taken to include carpooling, incentivisation of alternative transport, limits on importation of older vehicles, a comprehensive public transportation system and complete streets that will accommodate vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.