Mystery bridge on ETHE
(CNS): The emergence of a bridge along the Esterley Tibbetts Highway extension being undertaken by Dart has begun to raise public concerns that it will be spanning future channels which may cut through the island from the North Sound to Seven Mile Beach. A selection of pictures taken over the last four weeks by concerned citizens also shows the clearing of mangroves and dykes along the extension route, which is fuelling local fears about the scope and scale of the development around the new road. The extension forms part of the NRA agreement within the ForCayman Investment Alliance deal between the islands’ largest developer and government.
With few details about the Dart Cayman’s long term plans regarding the complete project, which is tied to the development of a five-star resort at the former site of the Courtyard Marriott, speculation over the bridge is mounting about the possible dredging of a channel, which would effectively slice through Grand Cayman at its narrowest point.
CNS has contacted Dart, the NRA and the planning department in an effort to find out more about the bridge. Dart and the NRA have so far failed to respond to questions about what it will span and any plans for future canals or channels that could cut through to the Seven Mile Beach area or into the planned resort. The Department of Planning confirmed that no permission has been given by them for any canal or channel development.
“Our department has not been provided with any details about the extension of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway other than what we've read in the media or on the ForCayman Alliance web site,” a spokesperson for planning stated. “To date, an application for planning permission has not been submitted for any canals associated with the works shown in the photograph or anywhere in the area of the road works undertaken over the past few months.”
The planning department did state that the NRA would not be required to apply for planning permission when building roads, with or without bridges. However, if there is associated development that includes canals, that development would require planning permission. The spokesperson also noted that the current situation with a private sector developer constructing the road, as opposed to a government-owned company, is something of a grey area.
The photographs, which show the clearing of dykes and removal of mangrove at the edges of channels in the area as well as raised areas between the water channels, coupled with the clear and evident construction of a bridge are leading some residents, particularly in the West Bay area to speculation that the developer could be planning to link the sea on either side, which raises a number of environmental concerns.
“There is a very real potential for loss of life and massive destruction upon virtually all of West Bay in the event of another Ivan-like hurricane if this bridge is an indication of a plan for channels linking the North Sound to Seven Mile Beach,” a local activist stated after pictures of the bridge were circulated last month.
“The sea surging inland from the North Sound will be even worse and more extensive, since its path would be made easier and more dangerous due to the deep and wide yacht channels.”
There is no confirmation however, that Dart plans to construct any new waterways in the area or why it has constructed the bridge.
Photos above were taken 2 September.
See series of pictures of the extension taken in August below.
See plans associated with NRA/Dart agreement here
|ETH-Ext Bridge 15-aug (1st three pix).pdf||1.56 MB|
|ETH-Ext Bridge 15-aug (2nd three pix).pdf||1.79 MB|
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