Half of the ongoing expressway work will be completed before the end of this year, whilst the Road Development Authority (RDA) is firming up moves to expedite the rest, a top official said.
“At present we are developing about 200 km of expressways and of that we are completing about 105 km within this year,” RDA Chairman Nihal Ranjan Sooriyarachchi told a forum recently.
Speaking at the ‘Understanding the MCC Compact’ forum organised by the Sri Lanka-US Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) he pointed out that the RDA has developed 3,400 km of road in five provinces.
Sooriyarachchi said the Outer Circular Highway (OCH) – III, which was planned in the 1990s will finally be opened for the public next month. “The completion of the OCH –III will connect the Southern Expressway from Matara to Katunayake. We have now completed around 40 km of the Hambantota to Matara expressway and it will be open to the public from November. In addition, the Kadawatha to Kerawalapitiya stretch will also be open to the public by November,” he added.
According to Sooriyarachchi, the RDA takes about Rs. 225 billion of the national Budget for the development of road network in the country, which is mainly focused on the expressways at present.
Sooriyarachchi also said they hope to open the Mirigama to Kurunegala stretch of the Central Expressway by March next year. Further, he said that the RDA will open the old Kandy road with four lanes up to Pasyala.
Elaborating on the Colombo region road development project, the RDA Chairman also noted that they have planned to develop a number of elevated highways to ease the traffic congestion in the capital.
“We planned to do an elevated highway from Orugodawatte junction towards Rajagiriya. For this project, conceptual designs are done, environmental approvals are done. We have qualified nine contractors to develop this project on a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) basis,” he said.
Sooriyarachchi said they are also connecting Rajagiriya to Athurugiriya interchange by another elevated highway.
In addition, he said that the RDA is constructing the new Kelani Bridge, a 380 m long six-lane bridge across the Kelani River with a loan of Japanese Yen 35,020 million from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
However, as the funds through the loan were deemed inadequate for the construction of the new Kelani Bridge and its approach roads, the Department of National Budget will be providing additional financing throughout the four-year implementation period.
Sooriyarachchi said this new Kelani Bridge will help to take the crowd from Katunayake expressway to reach the Port City through an elevated highway, which will connect Inguru Kade junction to Colombo Port City.