Saturday, April 25, 2009

Colombo-Katunayake Expressway ready by 2012

Colombo-Katunayake Expressway ready by 2012

The first stage of the long over due Colombo-Katunayake Expressway (CKE) will be completed by 2012 and would be operated as a toll expressway in Sri Lanka.

The length of the expressway would be around 25 kilometres starting from the New Kelani Bridge (NKB) and ending at the Airport Access Road (Canada Friendship Road) at Katunayake.

The prime objective of the project is to create a high mobility link between the Colombo and the Katunayake International Airport enabling motorists to travel to the Airport from NKB in just 20 minutes.

Currently the travel time is around 90 minutes from the existing Peliyagoda-Puttalam (A3) Road.

There will be three Interchanges (IC) at Peliyagoda, Ja-Ela and Katunayake while the fourth Interchange would be constructed at Kerawalaptiya with the implementation of the proposed Outer Circular Highway.

"The section of the expressway from NKB to Peliyagoda Interchange will have three lanes in each direction while the rest will have two lanes," said Project Director, CKE, M.P.K.L. Gunaratne.

The expressway will be designed for a speed of 80 km/hour for the section from NKB to Kerawalaptiya and 100 km/hour for the remaining section.

"The CKE will have all the facilities and provisions in complying with the international expressway standards," he said.

There will be a toll charged from the motorists using the expressway and it is expected to be around Rs. 200. Central Environmental Authority approval has already been granted for the project and the road trace has been selected mainly along the Muthurajawela marshes to avoid the large-scale demolition of buildings. Special methods will be adopted to construct the road embankment in marshy areas due to the prevailing weak soil conditions. Sea sand, which has been already dredged, will be used in stabilising the weak soil.

The land acquisition and resettlement work are in progress and a sum of over Rs. 1.6 billion has been spent in compensation for the acquired lands. Over 700 families have been already resettled.

CKE is also using the two overhead bridges that were built in 1976 for the Non-Aligned Summit thus saving a colossal amount.

"As a result of motorists using the expressway the A3 Road would have less traffic leading to higher speeds and less accidents.

In addition container traffic would move faster resulting in industrial development," he added.

The project initially commenced in 2003 but was halted due to lack of funds. During that time the project was funded with local capital and this time around Chinese credit has been secured for the project. One of the biggest development projects in the country, CKE would see an investment of over Rs. 37 billion with 85 percent of the funding coming from China Exim Bank.

China Harbour Engineering Company will be in charge of the construction that had been awarded on a Design and Build Basis.