November 28, 2020

Dart asked to make Esterley Tibbetts Highway dual carriageway

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Esterley Tibbetts HwayHealth Minister, Mark Scotland, revealed at the Thursday (7) Government Press Briefing that the government has asked Dart Realty Cayman Ltd to widen the original stretch of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway from the Butterfield Roundabout in George Town to the Camana Bay Roundabout at the junction of Lawrence Boulevard to dual carriageway.

Scotland said this was in order to address concerns about the number of accidents on that road and because of the expected increase in traffic volume once the rest of the Esterly Tibbetts is extended into West Bay.

Cabinet Ministers said this expansion would have been part of the negotiations in the second phase of the Dart proposal dealing with the landfill problem. Rolston Anglin, the Deputy Premier, said there were fears of a bottleneck along this stretch of road because of the increase in traffic that would be generated after the section of the West Bay road was closed, together with the present problems there. The government, therefore, thought it had to push for the road widening sooner rather than later.

Because this issue was now being discussed and talks still continuing, this was the reason the closure of the stretch of West Bay Road had been delayed, Anglin said.

Admitting the review period was over, Angin said, all the parties were continuing in good faith.

“Both sides are anxious to reach a conclusion,” he announced, “as everyone was aware of the need for an enhanced public beach and the jobs that would be created once Dart starts the hotel.  As is the case with any protracted negotiations, there can be frustrations but all parties are committed to working through to a beneficial conclusion.”

Scotland admitted he understood the public’s concerns about the closure of the stretch of the West Bay Road but there was no way government could take on what would be a major project to extend the Esterly Tibbetts Highway and improve the Public Beach. They were in no financial position to do this, he said.

Anglin denied that these new negotiations were indicative of the deal not offering value for money and had nothing to do with “clawing back anything”. It was about getting more from the deal where possible.

The independent review conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Anglin emphasized, confirmed the Dart/NRA deal offered value for money for the public purse from the very onset and the negotiations for changes and amendments do not change the value of the overall package.

Tourism Minister Cline Glidden said any confusion about the agreement was down to an expectation gap because the talks were not completed.

“We were expecting to be able to have an agreement but the issues on the third amendment are not finished.”

However, because the independent review has still been not made public, there remain many questions and not all have been satisfactorily answered.

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