Activists propose cheaper, greener route for EWA

| 30/11/2023 | 75 Comments

(CNS): The route chosen by the government and the National Roads Authority for the controversial East-West Arterial Road from Newlands to North Side is not the only one available. Local environmental campaigners, Sustainable Cayman, have in partnership with the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds issued an assessment of route options for the highway and finding one that is “cheaper, shorter and safer” the authors have said. Their proposed re-route is also environmentally friendly as it avoids cutting through the central mangrove wetlands and the associated flood risks.

The activists are urging the public to read the short, clear report, contact their MPs and lobby them for what they argue is a much better option than the one government is currently pursuing. The work was partially funded by the RSPB which has a particular interest in the issue because of the migratory, as well as nesting, bird habitat that will be put at risk by the East-West-Arterial

Natalie Hall, from the RSPB and one of the authors of the report said infrastructure development should not come at the cost of environmental degradation. “That is why we should always conduct rigorous environmental impact assessments before initiating any project,” she said.

“We should also adopt a holistic approach to development, which considers both human and natural systems, and the long-term sustainability of interventions. By doing so, we aim to create infrastructure that is not only functional and efficient, but also harmonious and resilient. The traffic issues currently faced by Caymanians cannot be solved by a new road in isolation.”

The report itself examines the NRA option, the redevelopment of the existing road and an alternative route which Sustainable Cayman said offered greater community access and benefits, a lesser environmental impact and more climate resilience, all for around at least $8million less than the current proposed route.

While no route can solve the existing bottleneck problem at the intersection of Hurley’s Roundabout given that any improvement east of this junction will simply increase the traffic delivered to the troublesome area, more quickly, this option will still cut the travel time to Grand Harbour and the inevitable congestion. The redirection of the road further south, as is proposed, would also have the least negative impact on the environment as it comes south of the Central Mangrove Wetland retaining that unique eco-system as oppose to the dissection of it, proposed by the NRA Route.

The report invites the public to read the report provide feedback to Sustainable Cayman and “engage in discussion” with their MPs. “Taking care of our environment provides for a better quality of life, health and well-being. This is one of the main components of why we need to ensure that proper decisions are taken today to build a safer and more resilient future,” a spokesperson for Sustainable Cayman said.

The EWA is currently going through an Environmental Impact Assessment.

The ToRs were finalised in May and the engineering consultants will be looking at potential re-alignments of the road as they examine the challenges this highway poses, given the NRA route currently proposes crossing the mangrove wetland, which could call for extremely costly mitigation measures.

This report suggests, based on the cost per mile to build a road on 2015 figures along the current route would cost at least $70 million and the alternative route just under $62million in comparison. However the $70million is now understood to be way out of date with the NRA more recently estimating it could be as much as $100million to build. That doesn’t include land acquisition or the mitigation measures needed to prevent flooding or to curb critical habitat destruction. The engineering and storm water management required to take the road through the wetland could send costs sky-rocketing making the project prohibitively expensive.

The alternative route that Sustainable Cayman is suggesting is further south from the NRA route, closer to existing development and poses much less of a threat to untouched habitat. It will not require the same complex engineering. It also avoids National Trust land and the Mastic Trail and reduces the access to the wider central wetlands. This would alleviating the concerns that the primary motivation for the last phase of the road from Lookout Gardens in Bodden Town to Frank Sound was to open up the wetlands to secondary development.

The EWA has caused political turmoil recently with the former premier and minister for climate change and sustainability, Wayne Panton, stressing the importance of an EIA for the project and the fact that the road is not the solution to Cayman’s congestion chaos, stressing the need for a modern, green, public transport network to properly address the traffic.

But several of the former PACT, now UPM ministers, have been opposed to the EIA and have been pushing to build the road regardless arguing it will reduce the congestion. Some have also been vocal about their support for developing around the road despite public concern about such secondary development. There has also been considerable speculation that the disagreements over moving this project ahead played a part in the recent ousting of Panton due to the pressure from developers wanting to access the wetlands.

Sustainable Cayman stated that the traffic issues currently faced by the Cayman Islands cannot be solved by a new road in isolation and such infrastructure and development needs to be looked at holistically to plan and design it in the best interests of the people not just development economics.

See the full report here or scan the QR code below


Share your vote!


How do you feel after reading this?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: , , , ,

Category: development, Environment, Local News

Comments (75)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    One more quick initiative.

    For any school that has a bus option, make the car drop off point FAR from the school. That should help incentivize kids and parents to actually use the school buses.

    10
    2
    • Anonymous says:

      great idea. no cars with just one child should be aloowed onto school property. ppl will soon learn to car-share

      8
      6
  2. Anonymous says:

    Why are we spending $70-$100M when this isn’t going to solve the Hurley’s roundabout problem? Shouldn’t that be first priority?

    I have two quick initiatives that will not solve but will help. Even a 10% reduction in number of cars is a win.

    1) Priority spaces in large parking lots designated car pool only (Camana Bay, Govt Admin, Cricket Square, Walkers, etc, etc). Get two people in cars going into town. People get very passionate about their parking spots.

    2) An express bus straight from Savannah to Camana Bay (no stops, good wifi) and another express bus straight from Savannah to Govt Building/Cricket Square. If this goes well, add one from Bodden Town to each place.

    If we get 100 cars off the road in the morning for very little money, that is a win. The Deloitte report estimated 800 cars through Hurleys roundabout between 7 and 8 am. 100 cars is a 12.5% reduction. On par with what the proposed bus system is aiming to achieve.

    18
    2
    • Anonymous says:

      “Why are we spending $70-$100M when this isn’t going to solve the Hurley’s roundabout problem? Shouldn’t that be first priority?” – Shhh, but it is. (Well, second priority)

      This is why NRA are so busy working on the existing bypass road from King’s to Town, and then on to Walker’s road and the schools. Rather than building the part of the E/W Arterial that has had environmental permission to build for years. Or finishing the road from Fish Shack to Eastern Avenue for the Port trucks. Because NRA know that building the E/W right now will just shift the problem. (Why don’t the politicians seem to know this is another question.) So they need to get the downstream bottlenecks widened before they build the E/W.

      Not sure what they will do about Hurley’s but I suspect they have a plan for three lanes through there as well. Remember that South Sound to King’s is a ‘3rd lane’. Plus the plan for the new road from Hurley’s to King’s ‘maybe sometime’. Get used to three lane roundabouts going to/from the East.

      6
      2
  3. Anonymous says:

    Why not implement a monorail like the Miami bright line

    11
    9
    • Anonymous says:

      Rail is good for moving people ‘in straight lines’ but needs a ‘last mile’ public transport to make it work. Whereas roads can handle both. – And rail tends to be a bit more expensive / inefficient per person-mile vs busses. (Rail can carry more though, and faster, which is why it wins in bigger places, e.g., Miami/London/etc. But except during our rush hour it is unlikely to be full enough to outweigh the capability of a bus.)

      3
      1
  4. Anonymous says:

    I appreciate the intent, but this report is pretty poor in quality, particularly in respect to cost estimate for the alternative route. Not all miles are equal (which it assumes), and the alternate route appears to run both through the northern part of open ponds and traverses multiple lots of developed or developing residential parcels.
    If we learned anything at all from the LPH project, the latter issue alone would balloon costs as the property owners demand extortionate compensation.
    It almost certainly seems the case that the alternative route will have lower general impact on biodiversity land; however, there’s no meaningful cost-benefit analysis provided.
    I generally think that an EIA (preferably expedited) would be a useful activity for this project so that subject matter experts (no offense intended to the bird society) can engage in the quality of study and review that would allow an informed decision to be made on the basis of actually valuable analysis.

    16
    4
  5. MONORAIL PLEASE says:

    Build a monorail over existing roads and medians with transit stations and car parks located at key points. Roads like Shamrock Road, Linford Pierson, Bobby Thompson, West Bay Road, etc.

    It really doesn’t need to be so difficult.

    Take control of the waste to energy plant situation and use the energy genetated from our waste to provide free/cheap power for the monorail system.

    18
    17
    • Anonymous says:

      😂 if you think anything coming from the Dart group will be cheap or free you are going to be in for a very unpleasant surprise.

      23
      1
    • Johnny Canuck says:

      Yeah, Monorail Please. A billion dollars will do it and God knows where all the workers who would work on the project would live.

      So easy. 😂 😆 😝

      13
      8
    • Anonymous says:

      Do you have any idea about the cost per mile of such an engineering project?
      Do a 2-minute internet search and let me know if you still think it’s a good idea.

      8
      4
      • Anonymous says:

        Your mindset is that of a defeatist. Either that or you work for the paving company or CUC.

        6
        10
      • Anonymous says:

        8:41, Looked at the internet and we would be looking at well over a billion dollars. 💵

        But what is money here where we have an unlimited amount? 😆 😝

        Would have to bring in thousands of workers to work on the project.

        3
        1
  6. Anonymous says:

    The ONLY thing any environmental activist in Cayman should be focused on is the dump! Yet, they stay well away from the stink and grime of the longest running, biggest, daily recurring environmental disaster in this country.

    It’s all most like some ‘causes’ are more virtuous than others.

    23
    8
    • Sir Humphrey says:

      9:19, Didn’t Sir Alden the great Speaker, say just before the last election that the dump was a done deal?

      An absolute disgrace.

      11
      2
      • Anonymous says:

        Sir Humphrey, if you think that Alden (or anyone else) said it was ‘a done deal’ then you clearly have not been paying attention.

        7
        4
        • Sir Humphrey says:

          8:36, I am only saying what Sir Alden said just before the last election.

          Everyone that was there at the media event concluded that it was a done deal.

          Perhaps Sir Alden was lying. 🤥

    • Anonymous says:

      Didn’t you hear guvment telling you the tire fires, dump fires, over spilling and leachate are all 100% nuttin to worry bout bobo

      8
      3
  7. Anonymous says:

    The road is not needed. Why are we destroying our environment just to support a few special interest group? People who will pay for this road? It’s already expensive to live here and this road is going to break this country?

    We need some oversight from England!

    24
    22
    • Anonymous says:

      Direct rule would be excellent.

      11
      12
      • Anonymous says:

        Explain how direct “rule” from HM’s Government/Parliament benefit you here in the Cayman Islands as an expatriate or Caymanian ? This should be good….

        8
        2
        • Big Bobo In West Bay says:

          1:27, Direct rule in the Turks & Caicos helped make the place more transparent, accountable and a financially better run place than they had before direct rule.

          We urgently need a reform program here and a new constitution which reflects the wishes of the citizens of the Cayman Islands.

          This is the only way to end the systemic corruption in government, the legislature,and among public officers.

          If something drastic is not done soon we are on the road to copying Jamaica very soon.

          2
          6
  8. Anonymous says:

    This will not work. The landowners along the current route will not benefit if it is moved.

    40
    3
    • Anonymous says:

      And the expatriate developer class patiently waiting for the said landowners to offload on the cheap if the road is approved. And 100k cohort waiting for new space to be created. In another 60 years the Caymanians will be crying on the talk shows like a broken record, about a situation they engineered and orchestrated themselves.

      23
      6
  9. Anonymous says:

    This is yet another example of why British Overseas Territories should not have devolved responsibility for environmental matters! The UK Govt needs to step in here and take control on the basis that (a) a sizeable proportion of the UK’s carbon sequestration commitments is dependent upon the BoTs i.e. ocean, protected marine habits, and mangrove areas and (b) the BoTs make up 94% of the UK’s endemic biodiversity.

    23
    17
    • Big Bobo In West Bay says:

      3:50, Sir Alden when he was leader, effectively stripped away a lot of father’s power in London. Now we are left to our own leadership which is dismal to say the least on environmental matters.

      We are masters in our own house now on this issue and the UK Govt can do nothing legally.

      I often wish we could have direct rule as our Caymanian leadership has no vision, particularly on environment issues, as developers and real estate minions have the power now against the greater good of Caymanian society.

      16
      5
    • Anonymous says:

      Oh leave us alone.

      4
      4
  10. DaWhaYaGet says:

    Here is a suggestion. How about removing the roundabouts throughout the EWA, especially in the Grand Harbour area and replacing them with a Spur Dike U-turn design with cordoned off exit and merging lanes. This would allow continuous traffic flow.

    16
    7
  11. Anonymous says:

    road not needed. end of story.

    32
    17
    • Hubert says:

      1:28, We really don’t need to get to the Hurley Roundabout snail 🐌 drive faster..

      9
      3
    • Anonymous says:

      Take it you don’t live east of Georgetown and don’t have to spend half of most weekdays in a vehicle.

      Maybe take a drive to East End early in the morning and experience the congestion.

      9
      21
    • armani says:

      Our lack of foresight has led to problems with critical infrastructure like the dump, port, roads and airport.

  12. Anonymous says:

    This. This is why you do an EIA before you build. Because there’s a good chance you will find a better option than your first no-assessment plan. (Thats not a criticism that’s just a reality of a draft plan around the world.) In this case it saves money & environment. And in this case that’s our money (and our environment) so we want the EIA done. Looking forward to the CIG EIA with more analysis of the various economic costs & benefits of the road options.

    34
    3
  13. Anonymous says:

    Very simple solution to Hurleys roundabout bottleneck is to build a flyover from Lions Centre, over the roundabout and coming back down on the other side. Though expensive, its not that difficult.

    18
    8
    • Anonymous says:

      Very easy building overpasses in live traffic huh?? We struggle to get CUC to move a handful of electric poles, what exactly makes you think that any part of building an overpass that length would be easy?

      12
      2
    • fed up says:

      It will have to lose a lane on each side to allow space to build fly over, which it will be worse. It is not Hurleys roundabout problem. It is the CNB roundabout and Bobby Thompson traffic cause traffic jam. The new part of Linford Pierson road will improve traffic flow.

      5
      4
    • Anonymous says:

      Or just put a stop light on South Sound Road. oh wait…

      4
      3
    • Anonymous says:

      Spur Dike U turn design, no fly over needed. Keep the Honda Fits on the ground!.

      4
      0
    • round & round incircles we go says:

      Ah. Now we will have flying Honda Fits!

  14. Anonymous says:

    I dont care if the fountain of youth is in there, Build that Road!

    11
    33
    • Anonymous says:

      You’re not being honest with yourself 11:57 – ‘the pot of gold at the midst of the mangroves is in there, Build that Road !

      8
      3
  15. Anonymous says:

    Artificial or gov. restrictions on land drives up land prices. People in those markets become desperate, gov then places pressure on banks to make loans affordable. Leading banks or institutions to get creative(pension withdrawals) and usually end up giving loans to persons who can not afford them. Housing bubble coming again. Sustainable Cayman should switch their focus to stopping so many ppl moving to Cayman if they want to protect the environment because out of all of this only the mid class and poor will suffer. The housing market so high they have no choice but to move East, now they making the land that side even more expensive.

    12
    5
  16. Anonymous says:

    So how come your MP lookin a route nah make sense?
    Follow the $$$ which is your $$$.

    21
    1
  17. Anonymous says:

    Based on the comments, looks like the Auditor General needs to keep an eye on this as well as the Governor #politriks

    20
    4
  18. Cynical says:

    Who owns the land parcels adjacent to the original road plans?
    Follow the money

    51
    2
  19. Anonymous says:

    all these wonderful roads only to get bottleneck at the airport and cnb roundabout.

    39
    1
    • Anonymous says:

      They will bottleneck at Grand Harbour long before they reach there.

      38
      4
    • Anonymous says:

      Roundabouts only work in the first world.

      30
      11
    • Doodlebug says:

      Indeed! As the article rightly points out, the new road will just propel drivers that little bit faster into the back of the morning jam at Hurley’s onwards.

      But it will be faster to get in and out of GT outside rush hour.

      The Sustainable Cayman route seems less damaging – I think the gov’t should go for that. What’s not to like?

      17
      4
    • Anonymous says:

      As someone who works all around the island, I can say that rush hour is not the only issue.
      getting from EE to GT any time is a nightmare on the current road. so many people who sit at 28-35mph, so many large tatty trucks that can’t accelerate or corner at normal speeds, so many frustrated people making wild overtaking maneuvers.
      a 2nd route, preferably with 2 lanes, would make accessing the east so much better and easier, and probably reduce accidents and deaths.

      The more southerly suggestion here seems a much better plan, and could be built faster and cheaper. Get it done!

      15
      2
  20. Anonymous says:

    The existing proposed route will make a lot of money for people who have already ‘made contributions’ to ensure that the route pays off.

    Sadly this new proposal will not even be considered for that reason.

    43
    4
  21. Anonymous says:

    Jon-Jon has a better idea, just shot all the birds, clean them and we can all eat them to save money plus feed our bellies!

    31
    4
  22. Anonymous says:

    Build the road

    21
    40
  23. Anonymous says:

    If the public transport was actually fixed to the point it makes a dent in traffic, this could even be avoided.

    We know it won’t though, so carry on concreting this place into a hellscape that will just host ever larger traffic jams.

    49
    2
  24. Anonymous says:

    Dont you understand it is not about traffic but about access to land for development!

    57
    6
  25. James says:

    the new proposed route will never go ahead. too many important people have invested in land surrounding the planned route.

    62
    1
  26. Anonymous says:

    Acting as if there is no traffic trying to get home way way way after hurleys roundabout. And lets just mention the bumper to bumper traffic starting at moon bay condos in Pease Bay at 6:00am. We need that dam road like 5 years ago…

    32
    21
    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t mention when there is an accident. 1 hour to get to a place you will get in 5 minutes under normal conditions.

      19
      3
    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, look at the report; it sets out the most efficient and cost effective route that can be delivered in the shortest time frame

      10
      2
  27. Anonymous says:

    Eat humble pie, hire the Chinese. Done in two years,

    11
    40

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.