Traffic jams in new port plan

| 16/11/2011

(CNS): The latest proposed plans for the George Town cruise port facilities are likely to create massive traffic problems in the downtown area and beyond, which will be down to the government to solve. A group of sea captains pushing for the cruise port to move to Red Bay say this adds further justification to their proposal, which was submitted to government last week, and have urged the authorities to reconsider before it is too late. The cost of fixing the traffic problem will be down to the public purse in the capital but traffic flow is incorporated into the alternative proposal, which they say has many significant advantages over the down town proposal that the country cannot afford to ignore.

Although government has not yet moved to a major agreement with China Harbour Engineering Company on the $300 million project in the wake of the expiration of the MOU signed by the premier in June, a delegation from the Chamber of Commerce heard some of the details of the proposed plans during a trip to Jamaica last week and the sea captains say these plans further fuel the urgent need for government to re-think.

Since taking office, the UDP government has been promising tourism stakeholders that it will find a way to develop cruise berthing facilities via a public-private partnership. The latest MOU expired on Sunday and McKeeva Bush has not yet given details of the status of the talks between the parties. CHEC is the third developer government has engaged with regarding the project but since the talks began the alternative proposal for the facilities to be constructed in South Sound has begun to gather momentum.

The captains say that among the many problems with the proposed CHEC plans, the future traffic problems will be left to the National Roads Authority to resolve and pay for as the wider road network considerations are not addressed.

The plans by CHEC have not yet been revealed to the Cayman public and they are understood to still be under negotiation. The MOU signed by McKeeva Bush called for a 49 year lease but the firm may now be looking for 51 years in order to recoup its investment, along with access to retail concessions in the upland element of the development.

The Beijing based firm is proposing to design the berthing facilities with two storey decks with retail units and where access to the street for passengers will be down ramps, which the captains say will have a detrimental impact on local traders.

Burns Conolly, acting on behalf of CaptArlen McCoy who has spearheaded the campaign, handed the documents related to the Red Bay proposal to government on Thursday. Given the captains’ decades of experience, Conolly said, the Red Bay proposal was technically and logically superior to building at Hog Sty Bay in George Town.
Red Bay has been mooted as “the location” for cruise port since the 1960s, the captains state, illustrated by the fact that Prospect was originally zoned for industrial use.

They also note that the road in the alternative plans is actually a proposed NRA loop road, which is why the Old Prospect roundabout was created in the first place. With the elevated highway over the South Sound road to the bypass, the road system in the Red Bay plan will have a positive impact on local traffic compared to the chaos the captains believe the CHEC plans will create in the heart of the capital.

No commercial activity is proposed in the alternative plans except on an island which will be part of the new port area, as a shuttle system will deliver passengers directly to the Kirks Harbour Centre and Royal Watler terminal areas. The captains say the merchants have invested a lot downtown and should not lose that investment.

Part of the alternate proposals also offers a financing solution. The developers will be able to recoup their investment through the sale of the material which will be the product of dredging the basin in the South Sound.

Despite the dredging and a multitude of other issues, the sea captains deny that the Red Bay cruise facility will cause ‘massive environmental damage’. They talk of a breakwater at the reef, which would be a perfect lobster and fish habitat, and that the area between the facility and the existing shore would continue to be a replenishment zone. Furthermore, they claim the breakwater would protect the area from future hurricane waves

Meanwhile, in George Town there would be environmental damage: the upper reefs — Cheeseburger Reef, Eden Rock, Devil’s Grotto and the Wreck of Cali — will die or be removed after the dredging and concerns remain that  Seven Mile Beach may be negatively impacted by the disruption of wave currents.

See letter to government here.

See more about the alternative cruise proposal here.

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Comments (53)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Didn't know that sea captians were traffic experts also neither is Burns for that matter. This argument is all null and void because new piers in town do not necessarily translate to more visitors.

    • anonymous says:

      You are wrong…bigger ships with more passengers and an increasing number of ships visiting does mean more passengers.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think the captain's plan is pure magic.  It moves a road INTO the sea and gives us locals a new scenic view on both sides.  I think about this every morning I spend an hour on the bypass between Thompson rounadabout and Car Wash…I wouldn't have to if this bottle neck remover was installed.

    • Anonymous says:

      This government is not concerned with locals and scenic views.  That is why they planning on closing the most scenic part of West Bay Road.  They do not igve a damn about locals and scenic stuff just their rtich friends.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Meanwhile this Red Bay red herring distracts us from the real problem at hand – see the link below.  Open your eyes people, if you love your country, stop this before it takes root here:

  4. Andy G says:

    I don't know the sea captains and I don't know Cayman's government.  What I know is my perspective as a cruiser and tourist.  When we come to Cayman, it's a pain to take a tender to George Town.  Many passengersdo not get off the ship there.  At the end of every cruise, passengers are given a survey by the cruise line that asks them to rate each port.  Over the years, our rating of Cayman has been dropping, not because of any major changes there, but because the alternative ports – with docks – have gotten significantly better  i.e. Mahogany Bay in Roatan, Costa Maya in Mexico, etc.).  The cruise lines DO listen to their passengers and will go where they think the best experience will be.  As it is, Cayman is on the verge of becoming irrelevent as far as cruisers are concerned.  For me as a cruiser, the Red Bay proposal would be less appealing than a dock in George Town, as others have commented, because of the bus ride involved.  But the people of Cayman should insist on a thorough analysis of all viable alternatives.  But please do it soon!  As John Heald, Carnival's Senior Cruise Director writes in his blog every time he writes anything about Cayman – "build a sodding pier" .  My point – Cayman needs a dock, sooner rather than later.   PLEASE!!!

  5. Tell me Y says:

    Y did Bush Fire the Port Board. Y has the Dock been held up for one year, Y did Bush Fire GLF. Y is it that the Chinese want 300 million and 50 years. 

     Now go figure. GLF deal was 180 million, 25 years and the CIG gets back the port . Who will 120 million dollars extra, and the 25 years help? The Cayman people, or the Jamaican Sangester his associates and the Chinese? 


  6. Catboat Captain says:

    Traffic mayhem, big waves & GT Flooding, conflict with cargo, closure of Royal Watler for 2 years, no space for anything, no expansion possible, destruction of upper reefs, potential damage to seven mile beach, cannot be used in simple northwester, …crazy location for our $300M investment. See Red Bay option.  See

  7. Anonymous says:

    Many folks here are missing a central point.

    The destination of most of the cruise passenger is NOT George Town. They are there just to catch the boat. Most are actually destined for Sting Ray city, turtle farm, seven mile beach, island tours, pirate ship trips, jeep tours, da bus that can swim, dolphins, parasailing, snorkeling at cheeseburger reef( soon to be history), diving, etc…

    That distribution of cruise passengers is clearly done better from Red Bay than from GT. Why add traffic downtown that is not necessary?

  8. Anonymous says:

    After looking at the Captains website it is clear that putting this monstrosity in town will do more environmental damage, and the unknown??? what will it do to 7 Mile beach???

    Government needs to give these captains a serious look and listen.

    • Anonymous says:

      So you go to an obviously unbiased website to get your opinion?

      Do you really think you are going to see any bad comments about their project?

      This is about money. Lots of it.

      This is what the problem is now, the people hear only about the Redbay project. So this may end up being the team that talks the loudest.

      • anonymous says:

        I agree its about money. Caymanian's money. CI$300,000,000 is alot of our mullah.

        I downloaded the Pros and cons document and I think its a fair one. The captains say they ARE going to impact the environment, the SW dive sites and the views in Red Bay and that's true. I also did not realise that in George Town there were so many healthy reefs that were going to be removed and destroyed.  I thought it was all dead out there.

  9. Anonymous says:

    If I were on a holiday cruise, the LAST thing I would want to do is dis-embark from a ship and get on a bus to see any main attractions that the destination port had to offer. (I suppose this is why I have no interest in a cruise holiday…too many people, not enough time inport to really see the place). Also, we were in Grand Cayman in the summer (looking for our home), when the cruise season was "allegedly" slow. One day, traffic and people everywhere (long line-ups down the road for the passengers to get back on the ship) and the next (a Sunday) GT was indeed a ghost town! Plenty of parking everywhere! We have a place in South Sound, so I wonder how horrific traffic actually will be and the extent of the impact on GT. My opinion doesn't matter, but I sure hope that Cayman comes up with a solid plan…and quickly! I also think that Mr. Conolly's opinions are well founded. This gentleman has the background and knowledge to make real improvements…give him a listen and stop all the hateful comments…

    • Strangers in the Night says:

      Mckeeva Bush is to blame for all the hold ups in the port development! He has changed proposed developers three times (we suspect why) & if he had stayed with GLK the port development would be well underway & the future of cruise tourism would now be looking up instead of how it looks now: DEAD IN THE SEA! Thanks Mckeeva Bush for your selfishness, as usual! We suffer while you personally continue to prosper, & fly all over the world without a care in the world! SELFISH! 

      • Anonymous says:

        McKeeva's delays have given the Red Bay option a chance to see daylight. thank goodness.

    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortuantely that is all they do, off ship and onto the bus to see the attractions. 85% of cruise arrivals in Cayman probably go on tour (yes, on the bus!)  Those shopping can take the 8 minute drive Red Bay. Those going to sting ray city are on the bus 10-15 minutes on a good day. Those touring then don't have to get caught up in the shoppers and visa versa.

      I agree with you we need to move forward, but I think we need to consider everything at once including the Kirks and Dart's investment in town and the much better Red Bay location.

      • Andy G says:

        My experience in cruising to Cayman (maybe 10 times or so) leads me to think 85% passengers going on tours is high.  I would guess in general maybe 25% stay on board ship, with the rest split evenly between tours and George Town – at least on the Holland America ships.  Anonymous 11:33 is exactly on point by suggesting these are metrics that are important to know before making any kind of decision about where to put a dock. 

  10. anon says:

       Block the traffic into George Town!  We should have done this a long time ago anyway…  Allow special license vehicles like delivery and Government vehicles to have access only. 

  11. Anonymous says:

    STOP  —-   .  Why can't we just forget about the dock.  Less ships are in the Caribbean now and are going to Europe,The tourists who come on the ships are spending less money.

    Haven't we destroyed this Island enough.   It is too expensive to live here and to vacation here.

    Businesses are closing and Real Estate values are going down.

    We have 2 hospitals now and we don't need another one.  With all the concessions that the Premier wants to give Dr. Shetty and the Economic Zone it will not help the locals or the govenment bank accounts.

    Why don't we get the monies that are owed to us by Mr. Ryan.  I bet that would be helpful.

    I was brought up to believe that if you don't have the monies you don't spend it.  Neither a borrowe or a lender be.








    • Anonymous says:

      STOP —  You seem to have a very negative attitude. If you cannot recognize the difference between Christie Thomlinson 'hospital' and the Shetty tertiary hospital performing heart operations then 'dog eat your supper.'

      The simple answer why we need MORE here is to "pay our credit card bill". We all have partied with Government's money for the last 20 years and now its time to pay the piper. The bill is now CI$60,000,000 per year just in our "credit card" interest alone.

      When you can let me know WHERE else the money will come from to operate government you can then yell STOP.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The obvious solution for the location of the port hasn't even been mentioned. Breakers; we've already dug all the basins. We just need to punch the whole through the short distance to them (right at the turn into Breakers from Pease bay). "Talkin bout a revolution". (in more ways than one). But it is still a better plan than any ofthe other suggestions.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well lets start by first admitting that a solution to the port facility needs to be found and now. Not tomorrow not the next election but now. We have sat on our collective behinds for far too long.

      Two solutions have been porposed and depending on who you listen to they both have issues. However because we have to solve the problem we will have to choose one or the other and live with what happens. There will have to be sacrfises made.

      I do notice that this new solution is being pushed behind the "sea Captains". I never met one of those thatwas an environmental expert yet but who knows maybe we have the first. However I would suggest that a big part of it is to gain support of the very concervative people. Those that dont want change but highly respect "old sea captains" as they have a significant part in our history.

      The two big problems with the current site are traffic and a dying George Town Center. The answer to it with the new site is a town center that does not currently exist but must gradually build up.


  13. Anonymous says:

    Burns Connolly personally did a traffic plan for the Dart version of the Port.  He was very proud of it (showed it to a bunch of people) and it didn't invlove building any new roads.  Since the Chinese version of the Port is in a similar place couldn't they just use the same plan?  Or is Burns Connolly finally admitting that his plan for the centre of town was a complete dog?

    As usual the "traffic analysis" for this Red Bay proposal is too simplistic – yes it will be easy to get off the boat but then they have to take some form of transport all the way to George Town and West Bay (where most of the attractions are), mostly in the morning, when the locals are trying to get to work.  Welcome to Cayman, sit in traffic?  The tourists can do that at home!  Wasn't one of the reasons to have a dock so that tourists could just get on/off the boat when they felt like it, without having to wait for a tender.  In Red Bay they would freely get off a bus and wait for a bus.

    Traffic is a valid concern for any port project being considered and it is important to get it right at the planning stage (moving roads later is expensive).  One can only hope whoever is making the decisions (Mac) actually gives it some thought.


    • Anonymous says:

      Besides the turtle farm and hell, what attractions are in West Bay?  The North Sound stuff can enter through Grand Harbour.

    • Burns Conolly AIA says:

      Thats right…I was asked to look at the impact of a full 4 berth, Genesis class cruise port on the roads downtown. This is what I found and proposed to solve the massive traffic issue which was created;


      1. Harbour Drive would have to close completely in the day from Cardinall Avenue to Fort Street. Access to the Port Authority could only occur at night or when there were no cruise ships in port.


      2. Albert Panton street would have to reverse flow from Cardinall Avenue to the LA building.


      3. A new traffic roundabout would have to be introduced near Royal Watler terminal to deliver the large number of tour buses from the Cruise terminal into the road system. This was awkwardas the FORT George is actually directly in line with Fort Street.


      4. Shedden Road at the museum would have to reverse flow up to Anderson Square.


      5. Anderson Square's parking would have to be converted into a roundabout to pick up Elgin, Goring, Shedden and Edward Street.


      6. Edward Street would have to reverse at the post office and go direct from the town clock to Elgin (through the parking lot).


      7. A NEW road would have to be made through Rock Hole to Eastern Avenue to connect to Godfrey Nixon Way OR a new road from North Church Street to Eastern Avenue in the area of Kirk Home Centre.


      8. A cruise passenger drop off terminal in the court parking lot area.


      9. Southbound traffic on North Church street would be significantly disrupted and Mary Street may have to be widened to Fort Street.


      Obviously, the impact was significant and yes, new roads were required. Traffic going northbound on South Church Street and from Walkers road were heavily impacted. So was the traffic as far away as Eastern Avenue and the ALT roundabout.


      The Sea Captains met with NRA and discussed the impact and the solution indicated at "" takes that information into account. The NRA actually contemplated rerouting around the Grand Harbour bottleneck by building the road into Red Bay and the by-pass down central south sound. That is why the Old Prospect Roundabout is there!.  That did two things, took away traffic from south sound proper and also took into account the traffic going east to the fastest growing districts, the Shetty Hospital and the CEC.


      The fact that Mr Sangster of CHEC has indicated that traffic is not really something they are looking at but can if we pay them to figure it out is proof that this is a looming problem worth adding to the discussion table. As you can imagine moving around roads/taking away land from buildings, in our highest valued area, is a huge undetermined cost that is clearly not identified to date nor priced.


      So I await their solution which maybe different to what I proposed. Lets see.


      • Anonymous says:

        I'm a little unsure on some bits if you've got a minute to explain, why is there an impact on traffic, is it because the ships have more cargo (passengers) than we are currently getting via tenders or is it that as it a quicker disembarkation process so we get them all at once?


        Not being deliberately dumb, obviously GT gets a bit busy when we get a lot of passengers at the moment but is the expectation that we will get more, or more quickly? and that's why we require a traffic plan.

        • Burns Conolly AIA says:

          The simple answer is Bigger ships, More passengers and More crew on shore. More on tour and therefore More buses and taxis. More traffic.


          The Oasis/ Genesis class ship takes over 6,000 passengers and has over 2,000 crew EACH. Given the news report this week the terminal will be able to take 4 of these ships. That calculates to over 30,000 passengers/crew berthed. CHEC also noted that they were providing for tendering as well so you can only add to that number on the busy days. The good news is that It is unlikely that 4 Oasis class ships will be in at once particularly as they only dispatch passengers from their starboard side and prefer "stern in" berthing. That given, we will need to have road infrastructure to handle 24-30,000 pax. simultaneously without taking into account that George Town can now take 7 storey buildings and we will likely see taller buildings (more people) given land values there.


          As the ships are berthed, the crew can also come onshore and you will see an increased number do so. At the moment they have to wait for guests to tender first before coming onshore. Many simple stay on board to avoid the chaos even though they are off duty.


          Trying to move that many people/tours between 7am and 10 am and back again at departure time will require easly 100-150 buses per hour not including taxis and independent operators. On top of that you have the 'local' traffic to contend with. I also believe that larger buses will be mandatory having personally cruised significantly throughout the Caribbean and seen these passenger flows personally.


          The traffic solution gets more complicated as we have to deal with increased pedestrian flows, double what Cayman has seen to date and they will have a very serious impact on the existing road network. We have seen calls for making some streets pedestrian only to handle this level of cruise tourist and the CHEC plan indicates 'pedestrian' flows away from harbour drive and into the town centre. Doing so will again only push the traffic problems further afield and impact roads even outside central George Town.


          There can be some mitigation to pedestrian flow rates such as having a significant retail presence or passenger activity on the pier itself but that does not impact the vehicular flow issue. Hope that helps in a nutshell.





          • Anonymous says:

            Thanks for taking the time to explain, I have witnessed the scrum that currently occurs with passengers going on tours and if what you describe as the future comes to fruition then I see the reasons for a comprehensive plan, hopefully improving the tourists experiences.


  14. Anonymous says:

    A beautiful new port would enhance the speed in which the tourists disembark the ship – however what are they disembarking for???

    Long gone are the reasons tourists came to Cayman:  friendliness, customer service (not even locals get that anymore!), quiet, peacefulness, solitude, Caymanian heritage, Caymanian food, Caymanian crafts……

    Instead, they get off a ship and get in a bus and are driven around like sardines in a can looking at what is left of our island after too many people have torn it apart.  An increased populations means an increase in crime, corruption, and construction. 

    It does not matter how long "they" have been trying to build a new port (and by the way I used to be an avid scuba diver, but all the coral in all of George Town is already dead – so WHY NOT build the port there!).  First and foremost – try salvaging Cayman!!!!  Then think about helping the tourist get off the ships faster!!!

  15. Anonymous says:

    You can always count on CNS posters to be against any and everything.  I cannot think of one news article on this site that has ever been received positively.

  16. Bueller says:

    Hahahaha! These 'Captains' sure are jokers.

    The current flow of cruise tourists is in the opposite direction to the flow of work traffic: we head into GT in the morning and out in the evenings; cruise tourists head out of GT in the morning (to 7MB, boat trips etc), and back again in the afternoons.

    Switch that arrangement by busing tourists into GT in the mornings and we'll have the mother of all traffic jams every day there's a ship at dock.

    PS isn't the whole point of building a dock to avoid having to tender passengers? Tendering them in buses from South Sound to GT surely defeats that very purpose?

    • Anon says:

      I wish I could give you comment 100 thumbs up! People, sea capt.s included need to look at the big picture, and all the dominos.

    • Anonymous says:

      most cruise passengers are NOT going downtown.

  17. Anonymous says:

    This South Sound cruise ship development plan makes sense and who cares where the idea came from. This crab in the bucket mentality some backward local people hold onto needs to be dropped like a bad habit as it is ignorant and petty.

    The South Sound berthing facility needs to go ahead.

  18. Peter Milburn says:

    The problem re traffic in G/Town with a cruise port can be solved quite easily if the Govt would create two "Park and Ride" areas on each side of town and provide a shuttle service into town.The other solution would be to close traffic on harbour drive or make it one way going north as that is where most of the cruise shippers go to get to the various attractions(Turtle Farm and S/ray city etc.)Either way the key is to control how many ships we allow in port at any one time.4 would be the most that should be allowed at any one time and spread that over 7 days(28 for the week.)I know that the ships do their schedules 2 years in advance so make them understand that this is the way we want to see it done in the long run.and give them time to adjust their schedules.It will be a far better experience for the passengers and this in turn will encourage many of them to return as stay over visitors(these are after all the ones we would really like to see increase)but continue to have the ships visit but ONLY 4 PER DAY.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Amazing that these 'sea Captains have so much experience and knowledge of infrastructures, traffic patterns not to mention geological and construction experts.

    • Anonymous says:

      This type of crab in the bucket attack is useless and needs to stop. If you disagree then why? There is no need to attack those that are trying to make a better solution to the country's challenges.

      • Anonymous says:

        Because we have the right to disagree with unsubstantiated claims and made by people who have no business with this.  Who asks a plumber for electrical advice?  Or who listens to a plumbers advice for electrical work.  Get the picture?

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly what I said the other week. The captains experience and knowledge stops at the dock and we need many other experts the likes of Mr Connoly to discuss and design the land side project

  20. Ray says:

    Cayman people dont know what they want,Big Mac take you time these people confused.

  21. Anonymouse says:

    Why we need proper impact assessments. The roads problem was identified by the public at the public meeting prior to the Atlantic Star EIA being begun. Be a real shame to discover that it got punted somewhere during the changes of developer/plan/assessment.

  22. Knot S Smart says:

    Where to put the port has been an ongoing debate for about 40 years now.

    For the past three decades the choices were North Sound, George Town, and South Sound.

    For this decade the choices are South Sound, North Sound and George Town..

    Oh well…  Back to the 'where to locate the dock debate'…

  23. Anonymous says:

    This push lacks credibility. Anyone can see that. The only way we can consider Red Bay Port is if the true backers, those who stand to gain financially, step forward. The charade has to stop for this project to gain any sense of integrity.

    • Anonymous says:

      Then stand up!…only the Caymanian people stand to gain a proper cruise facility and all weather port in Red Bay. 

      • Anonymous says:

        What? Your sentence means no foreigner will gain and no Caymanian will loose with this project. How is this possible?




  24. Anonymous says:

    About time we start thinking with our brain.  Austin keeps saying on the radio "the time for this discussion has gone and where were the sea captains for the last 10 years?"

    I'll have Austin know we have been trying to promote this plan since the 70s, then we resurrected it in 2004 and now we have resurrected it again as we here of the quagmire all developers are having with creating a solution that will work for a berthing facility in town.

    He says the 6 months extra time this will take in planning is not worht it.  That is baloney.  Six months for something that can save the country $100M+?  That is over a thousand affordable houses that could be given to Caymanians with the savings. C'mon Austin, don't let your political motivations get in the way of a great idea.

    • Anonymous says:

      Who cares what Austin says on the radio if the Red Bay plan is the best and can protect the beach along 7 mile beach then simply turn off the radio.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Are they referring to George (Ghost) Town? Perhaps someone should tell these sea captains that a) Sea Captains chose George Town when they could have chosen anywhere and b) The business district has essentially moved to Camana Bay. George Town, without cruise tourists is empty. Its even easy to find parking.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Seems to me that if you have to put all cruise ship passengers on any kind of road transport to move them from Red Bay to Town you would be increasing traffic levels, even with new feeder roads there will be inevitable bottle necks.  

    If the passengers are able to walk off the ships why not go for a bold approach and make a lot of downtown pedestrianised.  More Caymana Bay like.


    • Anonymouse says:

      Before Camana Bay there was Vision 2008. And a proposal to 'pedetrianise' at least parts of downtown George Town. (Including the park-and-rides, etc., needed to achieve this. ) Oh well, maybe one day we'll learn to plan ahead.

    • Anon says:

      Another 100 thumbs up! We need to think about their experience, and convenience, not ours! Yeah, sure there are many things in need of improvement. But placing the dock in the equivalent of the ‘G’ concourse of the Detroit airport is just daft and economic suicide.