Ironwood News

Road Extension Expected Soon

03-Aug-2015

Paving -Roads -Cayman -Brac (1)

The government and Ironwood developers may complete negotiations on the East-West Arterial road within the next two weeks.

This is the hope of Minister of Infrastructure Hon Kurt Tibbetts.

“All parties have agreed in principle,” Tibbetts said. “While most efforts have been full-steam ahead getting to this point, the whole arrangement is a bit more complex than building a road and getting it over with.”

One of these complexities is a focus on safety.

“The government was very concerned with long stretches of straight road, and the experience of the Esterly-Tibbets highway has taught us some experience about accidents,” Tibbetts said, adding that thiswould come with extra costs, estimated at between $6-8 million.

Tibbetts also focused on local job creation, saying “the government will ensure that Caymanian subcontractors have opportunity to do the vast majority of the work.”

Tibbetts the NRA would be given an oversight role in the final agreement – ensuring that the quality of the work met their standards.

“Legal counsel from both sides are now finalising the agreement,” he said.

The minister also made clear that any proposal had to be approved by the UK, and expressed his hopes for it being finalised in the next few weeks.

When asked whether any of the development’s previously made agreements had been altered, Minister Tibbetts responded that the only difference, “which is no different in principle,” he said, is that the Premier and the government were not content with a road of two lanes side by side.

The new plan is to include a median, with one lane on each side, similar to the beginning section  of the East-West arterial that passes into Newlands.

“This also lays the groundwork for the eventual extension of the road, for whenever we add extra lanes. It also allows us to put in street lights the right way, we are in talks with CUC with regards to lighting,” Minister Tibbetts continued.

He explained that the updated road proposal would also include exit lanes in a few locations to allow for commuters to change direction on the long stretches of single-lane road.

“The over-riding consideration in regard to the financing of the project is to ensure that paying for the project doesn’t add to government’s debt burden or financing burden,” said Hon. Premier Alden McLaughlin.

“The premise is that the overall cost of the project will be paid for by new revenue streams created by the project itself. In other words, the import duty on the materials imported for the construction of the Ironwood project itself, as well as the stamp duty on the sales of land within the project,”the Premier said.

The Infrastructure Minister reiterated the focus on the project’s financing, noting that although there were positive signs coming from the UK with regard to the development, the CIG had to ensure that it was a “sound business case,” in order to meet the general principals of the Framework for Fiscal Responsibility.

Commenting on the lengthy negotiations thus far, Tibbetts said, “This could have started a long time ago, but the nature of the project is such that the government wanted to make sure that all the t’s were crossed and i’s were dotted. In principle, everybody wants the road, but the government has to make sure that its interests are protected in the long term.”

By Rory McDonough, Cayman Reporter

http://www.caymanreporter.com/2015/08/03/road-extension-signing-expected-soon/

 

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