With renovations at Owen Roberts International well underway, two major highways currently under construction, and plans in place to move forward with a cruise berthing facility in George Town, 2017 has been a busy year for capital projects.
Let’s start with the airport. Earlier this month the Cayman Islands Airports Authority celebrated a milestone in the renovations with the opening of the new ticketing area. It’s been a year of growing pains, but Deputy Premier and Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell saidthe finished product will be worth the wait.
Remember; the 1980’s era airport was only designed to handle a 500,000 passenger throughput. When the $55 million renovations are complete it will be able to handle five times that amount.
“The actual using at the airport is the reward, because it’s going to make things a lot easier, and of course from the tourism standpoint the last impression you get is when you exit the airport, that’s the last thing that you remember about Cayman, and we want to leave you with a fantastic world-class experience that is as good as anything else, any other airport you’ll find in the world,” said Mr. Kirkconnell.
He told Cayman 27 the target date for completion is next year around this time.
Switching gears to road works. Drivers are enjoying more lanes and fresh asphalt on two of Cayman’s busiest thoroughfares, and it’s hard to miss Cayman’s first vehicular underpass.
It, and all three lanes of the new Camana Bay Town centre roundabout opened in June. The initial feedback mainly positive.
Work is underway on West bay Road to create Cayman’s second such project.
But, even in our newsroom the jury is still out on whether to call it a pedestrian overpass, a vehicular underpass, or just a big old tunnel.
And now to the cruise berthing facility. While the airport has faced little headwinds, the same can’t be said about the cruise port.
2017 was a year of behind the scenes work, as the slow process of contract signings, tenders, and hammering out of financial details dragged on. With all of that happening, the public still has yet to see the new design for the facility, which government says will move the piers into deeper water.
Then-tourism Councillor Joey Hew strayed from the political talking points a couple weeks before the May election and shared some insights into the financial arrangements.
“Several of the cruise lines have stake in the piers, no upland development. And the way that they get their money back is from the replacement of the tendering fees with the berthing fees. And the berthing fees will then pay the cruise lines back, and it also ties them in for the next 15, 20 years so that if they do not use the piers, they will not get their money back,’ said Mr. hew, who is now the Planning Minister.
As the year drew to a close, Premier Alden McLaughlin announced the project was in its final financing stages. A total of $3 million over the next two years has been allocated for the project.