By Alan Markoff
Camana Bay turns 10 this year and with several road improvements in and around the development nearing completion, it is well positioned for another decade of development.
During their past decade, Dart Real Estate spent more than $1 billion on the build-out of the Camana Bay Town Centre and the adjoining infrastructure. Over the next 10 to 15 years, Dart anticipates investing another $1.3 billion as the Town Centre expands and more residential components are added.
“The investment in Camana Bay to date and what will be made over the next decade reflects Ken Dart’s continued confidence in the Cayman Islands,” said Jackie Doak, President of Dart Real Estate.
“The completion of important infrastructure road works on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway in the first half of this year will facilitate the future growth of Camana Bay, but just as importantly, it will also accommodate Grand Cayman’s anticipated growth and traffic flow demands,” said Doak.
The current infrastructure works will not only benefit vehicular traffic: pedestrians will benefit as well as they gain new ways to access West Bay Road and Seven Mile Beach from Camana Bay.
“The plans we submitted for the next phase of infrastructure development at Camana Bay include a pedestrian and bike path ramp over the Esterley Tibbetts Highway vehicular underpass,” she said. “This ramp aligns with our vision for a walkable community at Camana Bay as it will facilitate safe access from the Town Centre to West Bay Road, allowing vehicular traffic to flow unimpeded.”
The elevated pedestrian ramp will begin immediately west of Books & Books and Cayman MAC Store. Once it reaches the top of the vehicular underpass, it will split off in two directions, with one branch of the “Y” heading north, eventually coming out near Burger King on West Bay Road. The other brand will turn south, coming out on a new road that connects West Bay Road next to Westshore Plaza.
The plans submitted accommodate future pedestrian connectivity through Camana Bay all the way from Seven Mile Beach to the North Sound and also include a second vehicular underpass on West Bay Road.
Alexander Russell, the Senior Manager – Design for Dart Development, said the new paths from Camana Bay to West Bay Road would be 14 feet wide and will accommodate both pedestrians and bicyclists. He said that as development in Camana Bay expands towards Seven Mile Beach, the paths would be replaced by permanent pedestrian walkways.
“What we’re really doing now is effectively a first step for providing safe pedestrian connectivity from the Town Centre to the beach,” he said.
Russell said that the pedestrian ramp would be built to a gradient that is compliant with American Disabilities Act requirements. Even though the top of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway vehicular underpass is approximately 30 feet above sea level, the slope is gradual, making it easier for those with disabilities to traverse.
The view from atop the vehicular underpass will be impressive: pedestrians looking east will be able to gaze straight down the Camana Bay Paseo and see the North Sound. The pedestrian paths will be landscaped with hedges or screening that will block the view of the undeveloped land – and future construction – around them.
The vehicular infrastructure improvements involve several elements. First, the current Esterley Tibbetts Highway through Camana Bay is being relocated westward and through the new vehicular underpass. It will connect with a new roundabout positioned a little northwest of the current Camana Bay roundabout, which will be closed. The northbound lane of the current Esterley Tibbetts highway through Camana Bay will be closed. The southbound lane will be repurposed as a two-way road for internal traffic in Camana Bay, and the landscaped median will remain.
The entire length of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway between Galleria roundabout and the new Airport Connector Road roundabout will be built to accommodate up to three lanes of traffic in each direction. The new part of the widened road, which will eventually form the southbound lanes, will open as a two-way road in January.
Once the new section of road is opened, the current stretch of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway between the new Airport Connector Road roundabout and Camana Bay will be closed so that it can be widened and raised to the same level as the new section. When complete, it will become the northbound lanes of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, separated from the southbound lanes by a heavily landscaped median.
Dart is doing all the work on the road, but the Cayman Islands Government is funding the widening of the road between the Airport Connector Road roundabout and the Butterfield roundabout.
It is anticipated that all of the Esterley Tibbetts road works will be completed by sometime in May 2017. When finished, it will mean there will be at least two lanes of roadway in both directions all the way from Elgin Avenue in George Town to Batabano Road in West Bay.
Doak said the continued enhancements to Cayman’s road network are a reflection of Dart’s collaboration with the National Roads Authority and the Cayman Islands Government to create world class infrastructure to accommodate Cayman’s growth.
“Through thoughtful master planning we are able to align these road improvements with our vision for a walkable community at Camana Bay, approaching infrastructure through a lens of placemaking that prioritizes the experiences of the people using the space, whether they are driving, biking or walking,” she said.