NRA’s hydro reports hold up EIA for EWA highway

| 07/12/2023 | 26 Comments
East-West-Arterial-Rd-extension Cayman News Service
Area of planned road extension

(CNS): A critical report that will inform the design of the controversial East-West Arterial extension is the only thing holding up the environmental impact assessment for the road. Despite accusations from Cabinet members, including the minister responsible for roads, that the Department of Environment and the need for a full EIA were delaying the start of work, it is a hydrology report commissioned by the National Roads Authority that is still not finished, the DoE director told the National Conservation Council at this week’s meeting.

Updating the NCC about the work of the seven environmental assessment boards (EABs) currently sitting to oversee EIAs on various public and private projects, she said the board for the EWA was sitting regularly and meeting with the consultants. She said things had progressed, with at least one chapter for that road completed and already reviewed by the board.

“The hold up with that EIA at the moment is due to the fact that the hydraulics and hydrology study, which was commissioned by the NRA outside of the EIA process, has not yet been completed,” DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie told the NCC. “We’ve been waiting on this study since February… We were told at that time that it was 90% complete, but we still haven’t had the final documentation.”

She explained that the consultants are waiting for that report in order to do their work, noting that even if there were no EIA, that report would still be required because it will inform the design. She said the board had done its part, adding, “We have done everything… we have been required to do, and we are just waiting for that.” But this missing report will feed into the assessments that need to be done to come up with the preferred option for the road.

On a number of occasions in parliament, several ministers have claimed that this report was completed and that, as a result, the EIA was not needed because it was sufficient to help mitigate flooding problems. However, it appears that the report, which was commissioned independently, is not finished. Given that the issue of flooding is one of the main problems with the proposed NRA route, which cuts through the Central Mangrove Wetlands, the report will be fundamental to the success or failure of this controversial road.

Just this month, Sustainable Cayman submitted a report of its own looking at a drier and cheaper alternative route. The activist group hopes that the completed EIA will include their proposal and help persuade the government that it is not necessary to slice through the critical wetlands in order to reduce traffic congestion for residents in the Eastern Districts.

Meanwhile, the director also reported that the EIA process for the Integrated Solid Waste Management System (known as ReGen) was also moving along. She said that the board was “fairly close to finalising the environmental statement”, but, again, the hold-up was the hydrology reports by the consultants as they had to do some remodelling. But Ebanks-Petrie said the EAB was meeting the consultants on Monday, and she expected they would be able to complete the document soon afterwards.

Three of the most recently established EABs are working on the proposed airport projects on all three islands. Scoping opinions have now been completed, which have gone or will be going to the Cayman Islands Airports Authority very shortly. The Krock quarry has received its scoping opinion and is reviewing that. Finally, the EAB for Port Zeus, the proposed marine project in Cayman Brac, has reviewed the terms of reference for that potential development, which should be finalised shortly, Ebanks stated.


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Category: development, Local News, Science & Nature

Comments (26)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This road is not needed. There are cheaper and environmental alternatives.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    These boys are chomping at the bit to mess up the water flow and create a local Aral Sea wasteland.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Does the NRA commission hydrology studies for all of the roads they build? Asking as someone who lives in one of the flood areas created by the same NRA…

    They completely ignored the residents in the area where I live, and put the East-West bypass smack in the path of water run-off to the North Sound. They have done the same in Bodden Town, and let’s wait and see what happens at the GT end of the Linford Pierson when we get some good rains.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Who will be paying for this paving and for the destruction of our environment? Remember we are barely making ends meet now. Bankrupting the country for a few land owners is not beneficial to the people.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    So why is the hydraulics and hydrology study contracted outside of the EIA.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    be great if they could finish the bit they started first. so dangerous, no road markings or out of date, half finished, some slip roads some not. get on with that then consider this

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  7. Anonymous says:

    DONT BE FOOLED!!

    The EIA is not the true issue with NOT getting this road complete. The true cause for delay is Govt funding – the politicians past and present could not come up with the money to pay for actually building the EWA ($40million in 2016).

    From 2013 the Minstry for Roads and the NRA have known that an EIA was required. Since then, 5 or 6 EIAs could have been done. Instead, the politicians keep blaming the EIA as the reason why the EWA cannot be built to take the spotlight off the Ministry and NRA.

    But wait, the Phase 1 from Hirst Road to Woodland Drive does not need an EIA.

    So, why have the NRA not even built that short section? The answer is because the Ministry and Cabinet cannot find the funds even for that short piece.

    So, this makes sense that the politicians would want the NRA to delay finalising the Hydrology Study, because it helps the politicians narrative to keep blaming the EIA as the reason why they cannot build the road.

    You see, once that Study is finished and the EIA process is complete, the politicians cannot blame the EIA or the DOE or NCC anymore for the delay in building the EWA.

    At that point, when the EIA is done, the spotlight will switch to focus on the politicians then to build the EWA, and they have no good answers for their delay in finding funds.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Minute of a cabinet meeting – “Build a road or give ourselves and the cronies that we have appointed as board member a raise? All in favor of more money raise your heads from the trough.”

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    • Anonymous says:

      If true, stop the Brac high school and Bush WB high school. that’s at least $150 million right there.

      Stop government employee bonuses and that’s another $7.5 million.

      School vouchers for parents would save another $125 million annually.

      If we just had leaders that actually ran a legitimate businesses and know how the real world works instead of bureaucratic buffoons, the Cayman Islands would be much better off.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    9.37 Stopping the condtruction of this road purely on environmental grounds is just plain wrong.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Ju-Ju & Jon-Jon are going to ram this one thru no matter what.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    for once redtape is doing a good job.
    road(without an island wide development plan) is not needed…end of story

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    • Anonymous says:

      Meanwhile, has any progress been made on a national public transport plan?

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      • Anonymous says:

        Yep, that’ll be more boom box Yardie carriages and rickshaws in town. Anything first world will be seen as degrading to heritage.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Kenny forgot about his electric busses from Barbados after they made him Grand Poobah of Caribbean Tourism.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The road is definitely needed. However, it should be moved further south in line with Sustainable Cayman’s recommendations and in order to mitigate environmental impact to the extent possible.

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      • Anonymous says:

        If you can arrange for suitable payoffs to the right people it might happen.

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      • Anonymous says:

        This road is not needed. There are cheaper and safer alternatives.

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        • Anonymous says:

          your comment is interesting given all the traffic problems in the eastern districts including long delays to get to and from work in town.

          • Flats Rebel says:

            So what? We must destroy a living ecosystem so people can get to work on time and avoid traffic? Those mangroves untouched are far more important than people getting to work on time. This road will create more traffic and problems.

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