By Alan Markoff, Camana Bay Times
Many of the infrastructure projects in and around Camana Bay scheduled for completion during the coming months represent firsts for the Cayman Islands.
All of these projects use construction methods employed regularly in other parts of the world, but for the Cayman Islands, they are groundbreaking. With Dart Development managing the construction, local contractors have built the infrastructure projects using the technical designs of APEC Consulting Engineers.
Dart Development’s General Manager Projects, Ray Howe, said the new infrastructure elements involve high-tech engineering the public might not be aware of because they can’t see it. “A huge portion of what we do is unseen at the end of the day,” he said.
The Maris Avenue bridge, which joins Camana Bay’s Festival Green – which is part of what is referred to as Central Island – with the rest of the development, will soon replace the dirt causeway that currently exists.
The flat-beam bridge will not only provide much better access to the Central Island, preparing it for its eventual development, but it will also allow for boat traffic to flow underneath. “It’s the first real bridge in Cayman,” said Howe, noting that the bridge will have an 18-foot clearance underneath for boats.
The bridge has five I-beams that are 96-feet long and that each weigh 42 tons holding up the bridge, with the utility cables and pipes tucked in between the beams, hidden from view.
The bridge will feature coral stone cladding to the supporting walls and there will be barrier walls separating the vehicle lanes from the pedestrian sidewalks, as well as a pedestrian guardrail. There will also be cycle lanes on both sides of the bridge.
The most elaborate of the infrastructure projects involves the vehicular underpass on the realigned Esterley Tibbetts Highway just west of Camana Bay’s Town Centre. The top of the underpass will also serve as a pedestrian overpass, linking the Town Centre to West Bay Road.
“That kind of structure is completely new to the Cayman Islands,” Howe said. The underpass, which has been designed to support a three-storey building on top of it, has 557 auger-cast piles holding it up, each one 24 inches in diameter, Howe said. It also has 84 U-beams that are 60-feet long and weigh 40 tons each.”They were cast in Tampa and put on barges, 21 per barge,” Howe said, noting that Dart Development had to bring to the island a special crane and special trailers that were big enough to move and transport the beams.
Initially, the top of the underpass will have four feet of soil on top of it to provide a base for landscaping on the pedestrian overpass.
Eventually, another vehicular underpass will be built on West Bay Road, but Howe said that one will be easier to do, partially because Dart Development has now had the experience of building the one on Esterley Tibbetts Highway, but also because the next one will be only two lanes, rather than three lanes in each direction, so it won’t be as wide.
The subway, which is what the pedestrian path under the Esterley Tibbetts Highway in the vicinity of The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands is technically called, is being built in two halves. The first half, which was built under the new stretch of road that opened in late January, is completed. The second half is now under construction.
Because it is below the water table, a pump will be required to keep the subway clear of standing water. In order to keep the water from forcing the subway upwards, Howe said tension piles were installed to resist uplift.
“We’ve changed the design on the second half, increasing the base area and using the additional weight of the structure, as well as back fill, to resist uplift,” he said.
The new section of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway between the Galleria Roundabout and the new roundabout just south of the National Gallery has been built to eventually accommodate three lanes of traffic in each direction. In between will be a wide landscaped area with coral stone side walls, all built in consultation with the Cayman Islands National Roads Authority to ensure adherence to all standards and codes.
“Our major concerns on all projects are safety, quality, time and budget, but the one thing that is always considered the priority is safety,” Howe said. “This applies to the safety of our workers and for the public.”
As the Esterley Tibbetts Highway is built and completed over the next several months, there will be some periodic lane closures, Howe said.
“We do have to have these lane closures to switch the traffic,” he said. “You just can’t unroll a new road from the back of a truck. We realise we inconvenience the public sometimes, but we try to keep it to a minimum by ensuring we have adequate planning in place. It’s like a big jigsaw puzzle to switch all of these roads around, so it’s all about planning and preparation.”
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