Motorists drove through an underpass for the first time in the Cayman Islands on Sunday, 25 June, when the National Roads Authority opened the new Camana Bay Town Centre Roundabout and vehicular underpass.
In addition, the new ramped pedestrian path opened at the same time, providing people travelling by foot between West Bay Road and Camana Bay with a safe and scenic route up and over the underpass.
The new road system required the temporary relocation of access points to the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands and the Cayman National Cultural Foundation/Harquail Theatre, both of which can be accessed through Harquail Drive off Lawrence Boulevard.
To assist motorists – both local and visiting – with navigating the new roundabout and related exits, the National Roads Authority installed official way-finding signs and striped the road with directional arrows.
This fall, Dart Real Estate and the National Roads Authority will complete the future northbound carriageway between the future Camana Bay South Roundabout and the Camana Bay Town Centre Roundabout and open the pedestrian link that runs beneath the Esterley Tibbetts Highway.
TEN FUN FACTS ABOUT THE ESTERLEY TIBBETTS HIGHWAY
1. The Camana Bay Roundabout includes some large show-stopping trees, like the gigantic wild fig, the magnificent Bismarckia palm, the fiery red royal poinciana, the ornamental royal palm and the majestic kapok tree.
2. The lighting in the vehicular underpass is precisely placed and its brightness attuned to allow motorists’ eyes to adapt from bright natural daylight to the otherwise dark passageway.
3. The former section of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway next to Camana Bay is now known as Emeritus Drive, a local road through Camana Bay.
4. The vehicular underpass is as much about moving people as it is about moving cars. For one of the first times in the Cayman Islands, pedestrians and cyclists are separated from traffic, with safe and efficient alternative routes.
5. A special crane had to be shipped in to Grand Cayman to move the 44-ton beams that support the pedestrian ramp. Once in place, the beams – which resemble giant bathtubs – were each filled with 2,600 cubic yards of concrete.
6. The abstract painting on the interior walls of the vehicular underpass mimics the Camana Bay blossom icon and the colours.
7. The top of the pedestrian ramp is 32 feet above sea level. Both Seven Mile Beach and the North Sound can be viewed from here, a bellwether of future sea-to-sound connectivity.
8. Sixteen industrial-strength ventilation fans are installed in the vehicular underpass to circulate air flow and drive exhaust emissions out.
9. The pedestrian ramp design does not incorporate the use of stairs and is fully accessible by walkers, runners, strollers, bicycles and the physically disabled.
10. The vehicular underpass is 450 feet long in total, or about the length of four Cayman Airways’ Boeing 737 jets.