UAE inaugurates $ 1.4 b highway to Saudi Arabia for 3-hour drive

Monday, 29 January 2018 00:04 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The UAE Government has opened a major highway – the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Project extending from the Mafraq region of Abu Dhabi to the international borders with Saudi Arabia - which has been built at a cost of Dh 5.3 billion ($ 1.44 billion).

The 246-km-long highway, constructed by the Abu Dhabi General Services Company (Musanada) under the supervision of the Abu Dhabi Transport Department, could become the longest international interstate road of its kind in the world, said media reports.

The ambitious project was inaugurated by Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region, in the presence of Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Department of Transport and other senior officials.

The road upgrade was undertaken in several phases, covering 246 km of the 327-kilometre highway, to significantly ease congestion and weather-related hazards for motorists, reported the state news agency Wam.

The project entailed increasing the number of lanes from two-lane carriageway to least three lanes wide over the 64-km stretch from Barakah to Ghuwaifat, and up to four lanes wide in the 182 km span from Mafraq to Baynounah Forests. Each lane can accommodate a maximum of 2,500 vehicles per hour.

A total of 15 other new interchanges have also been constructed, and existing interchanges at Mafraq, Hameem, Abu Al Abyad and Madinat Zayed have been enhanced, said the report.

At the same time, the highway is now fully lit with LED lamps in order to increase visibility and reduce fog-related risks. The overall asphalt level of the road has also been raised and its drainage improved in order to prevent water accumulation, it stated.

For motorist convenience, lay-bys and hard shoulders have been established, and there are petrol stations at two new locations, near Barakah and Mirfa, said the Wam report.

Camel underpasses have also been set up near Al Sila and Ghuwaifat so that farmers and camel owners can ensure the safe passage of camels, it added.

It has the capacity of accommodating 6,000 to 8,000 vehicles per hour and boost the flow of goods and the volume of trade exchanges in the whole region, reported Emarat Al Youm, citing a senior official.

Roads director-general Faisal Ahmed Al Suweidi said that a trip on the new highway to the Saudi border would take three hours.