New expressway bypassing Sri Lankan capital to ease traffic jams
ECONOMYNEXT – The second section of an expressway bypassing the Sri Lankan capital Colombo will be opened this week, easing traffic congestion in the city and also improving freight transport.
The Kaduwela to Kadawatha (OCH2) section of the Colombo Outer Circular Expressway, to be opened on September 17, will provide better access to the island’s expanding expressway network, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which funded the project, said.
JICA, the implementing agency for Official Development Assistance from the government of Japan, also funded the Kottawa – Kaduwela (OCH 1) section of the Colombo Outer Circular Expressway, where it connects with the Southern Expressway.
“The Outer Circular Expressway extends the Southern Expressway northwards from Kottawa Interchange,” a JICA statement said.
“Similar to the Southern Expressway – 66km of which was financed by JICA – the Outer Circular Expressway will also allow vehicle speed up to 100km/h.”
OCH 1 was opened in March 2014 with a major interchange at Kottawa and smaller interchange at Kaduwela east (Kotalawala).
In order to provide better access to the expressway network from the administrative capital, an additional interchange was constructed subsequently in the Athurugiriya suburb which will also be opened at the same time.
Once the third section from Kaduwela to Kerawalapitiya, north of Colombo, is completed, the Outer Circular Expressway will link Southern Expressway and Colombo Katunayake Expressway to the main international airport.
“It will then act as a North-South artery for Colombo bypassing the inner city area, thereby easing traffic congestion in the city,” JICA said.
The Kadawatha Interchange of OCH2 is also expected to be the commencing point for the planned Central Expressway to Kandy in the central highlands.
To construct the section from Kaduwela to Kadawatha, JICA provided concessionary loans to the value of 37,406 million yen under Special Terms for Economic Partnership with an interest rate of 0.2 percent and 40-year repayment period.
This section includes 8.9km of 4-lane expressway, two interchanges (Kaduwela and Kadawatha) including toll plazas and facilities, and a 6-lane expressway bridge across Kelani River in Kaduwela.
“As it is located in close proximity to Biyagama Export Processing Zone and Sapugaskanda industrial zone, it is also expected to improve freight transportation to and from these zones,” JICA said.
In order to enhance the expressway use and operation, JICA also provided grant assistance to establish Intelligent Transport System (ITS) facilities on the expressway network.
The 940 million yen grant included traffic counters and rain gauges for data collection, traffic monitoring and control center for data monitoring and management, and roadside Variable Message Signboards for information dissemination.
These facilities are now operational between Kaduwela and Godagama.
In addition to financing nearly half of the operational expressways in Sri Lanka, JICA is also financing the second new Kelani Bridge to ease congestion at Peliyagoda, the northern entry point to Colombo city.
JICA’s recent assistance to the transport sector in Sri Lanka includes technical cooperation to formulate the urban transport master plan for Colombo metropolitan area and a feasibility study for a monorail system. (Colombo/September 15 2015)