Amid religious blessings, President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday ceremonially declared open the country’s first expressway, the E-01 Southern Expressway, from Colombo to Galle.
Unveiling a commemorative plaque at the southernmost access road to the expressway from the Pinnaduwa interchange in southern city of Galle, the President in his capacity as the Minister of Highways opened the 95-kilometre toll road that runs from Kottawa in Colombo District to Pinnaduwa in Galle District.
The President travelled along the highway to the Welipenna interchange in Kalutara District and unveiled another plaque to mark the opening of the expressway.
The toll for the entire length for a car will be Rs. 400.
The four-lane highway constructed at a cost of around Rs. 70 billion has eight entry points at Kahathuduwa, Gelanigama, Dodamgoda, Welipenna, Kurundugahahetekma, Baddegama and Pinnaduwa.
The maximum speed on the highway is set at 100 Km per hour, enabling the motorists to reach Galle in an hour.
A separate Police unit consisting of the elite Special Task Force (STF) personnel has been established for traffic control on the expressway. In addition, expressway traffic will be monitored by a close circuit TV (CCTV) camera network.
The STF personnel have been trained especially to provide emergency medical aid and handle accidents and other emergencies.
With the opening of the expressway, the Sri Lankan Government plans to develop eight new townships along the road where the entry/exit points of the expressway are located.
The eight new townships are located in Makumbura and Kahathuduwa in Homagama electorate, Gelanigama in Bandarama electorate, Dodangoda and Welipenna in Matugama electorate, Kurundugahahetekma in Elpitiya electorate and Nayapamula in Baddegama electorate.
New fuel stations and other infrastructure are now being developed in these towns.
In the second phase of the development, the expressway will be extended to Matara. The segment from Galle to Matara will be opened for the public in 2013.
Meanwhile, preliminary plans to extend the Southern Expressway up to Hambantota and Kataragama have been finalised.