October 21, 2021

The Editor Speaks: A road to somewhere but the route no one knows where

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Colin WilsonwebHow is it possible to have a major arterial road gazetted without “any assessment to inform the optimal alignment of the road corridor with respect to transportation needs, impacts on established protected areas and the natural environment, or any other relevant considerations”?

Apparently it is possible to do this here in the Cayman Islands.

This revelation has come from a report in CNS where the Department of Environment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie told the media outlet they were not aware of any assessment or study being executed on the existing East-West corridor before it being gazetted in 2005.

Even though the present Progressives (PPM) government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Ironwood developers to extend the East-West arterial road corridor the very department (DOE) it concerns has not yet been provided with a master plan for the development. They only know what we know that the proposed $360M Ironwood development in North Side includes an 18 hole golf course designed by golfing legend Arnold Palmer. Plus the whole development is contingent on the route of the road extension.

So where will this extension road go? Does anyone know? Nowhere? No. It goes somewhere as the National Roads Authority (NRA) would appear to have some indication but it’s the route it will take to get there is the main problem.

No consideration to date has been given whatsoever to this route, which is on par for the first gazetting of the existing corridor. Perhaps even a birdie is going to be attempted…?

The secrecy surrounding the route does not bode well. The two MLA’s whose districts the development affect, Ezzard Miller who represents North Side and Arden McLean who represents East End, have not been involved by government or the developers in the project. A huge faux pas.

One of our lead stories today is Cayman Islands National Trust’s concerns on the whole matter and seeks government to even realign the gazetted arterial road.

The Trust has said the “planned road, as indicated by the National Roads Authority, will traverse five protected areas under Trust ownership. Despite expressing these concerns, no amendments to the plan have been forthcoming. The Trust is therefore concerned about the offer by a local developer to finance the extension from Hirst Road to Frank Sound Road. After due consideration, the Trust has established a position. A further concern of the Trust is the amount of fill that will be required to fill the road From Hirst Road to Frank Sound Road and as well we are concerned that roads act as vectors for invasive alien species to colonize natural areas. In all likelihood the planned road will encourage the eastward movement of the Common Iguana (Iguana iguana), which is viewed as a pest in the western districts.”

Ebanks-Petrie has warned:

“Before any further undertakings or approvals are given with respect to the road corridor the necessary assessments must be carried out so that the precise location of the road corridor can be rationalized. Under the National Conservation Law (NCL) the National Roads authority (NRA) would be obligated to consult with the National Conservation Council prior to taking any further decisions on the road corridor and we are hopeful that this consultation will take place with the DoE even if on-going efforts to fully implement the NCL have not yet been completed.”

All we can say with any certainty today is we have a proposed development that will only happen with a road no one knows where it is exactly going.






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