A tale of two major capital projects.
The Progressives-led government cashes in on its promise to modernise Owen Roberts International Airport, but the cruise berthing facility, another major PPM campaign promise, is still spinning its wheels in the information gathering stage.
We start at the airport, where it was revealed that McAlpine contruction will handle the second phase of the airport expansion.
This morning, Cayman Islands Airports Authority boss Albert Anderson and McAlpine reps inked the $42.5 million deal.
The phase two project basically picks up where phase one, the construction of a new baggage screening facility, left off. When it’s all said and done, the airport will be able to handle 2.5 million passengers per year, five times what the current airport was designed to handle.
The new terminal will be built from the outside in, to minimise passenger inconveniences.
“We have to go forward incramentally. I don’t think that the airport users will notice anything for about 12 months until we get into the existing terminal and have to start sectioning parts of it off,” said Denise Stabler, Sr. Project Manager for Airport Development.
The phase two improvements will start next month, when phase one is complete.
First, contractors will build an access road for construction traffic, and then will put up security fencing around the project in line with airport security standards.
The whole project should be complete by mid-2018.
While the airport plan is progressing with relative ease, the port project is facing stiff headwinds.
Government told reporters Wednesday (25 May) the cruise berthing facility plan is still in the information gathering stages.
Deputy Premier and Minister of Tourism Moses Kirkconnell said an engineering firm has said the pier can be reoriented a few degrees and moved into deeper water to lessen negative environmental impacts. Now government needs to assess what that will cost before taking the next step, which qwould be securing a finance model with the cruise lines.
It is still optimistic it can be done in advance of next year’s election.
“We believe that we will be able to make a decision before the next election based on the information that we’ve been out with the RFP and the information we’re getting,” said Mr. Kirkconnell.
Opponents of the cruise berthing facility believe if the port ever gets to the shovel-ready stage, an international treaty or organization will step in to halt the plan.