By Sunimalee Dias
The Government has allocated Rs. 12 billion for the construction of highways this year with plans underway to reduce private vehicle usage and promote public transport.
In this respect, 60% of the budget allocation is being funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank and China Exim Bank among others, while 40% of the funding will be carried out by the Government.
These observations were made by Road Development Authority (RDA) Acting Chairman/Director General Eng. R.W.R. Premasiri during his presentation on ‘Road Network Development’ at the Logistics Leaders Evening conducted by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport at the Ceylon Continental in Colombo.
In the widening of highways in the country, the RDA has taken to establishing three different standards for six, four and two lanes.
Plans are underway to facilitate the reduction of private vehicle usage by providing infrastructure to promote public transport.
In this respect, public transport corridors are being planned on new road designs as in the Hambantota hub development project.
In addition, the provision of bus bays and bus terminals and bus lanes are been carried out while an overflow of parking for buses in major developments are implemented. Parking space is evident along the D.R. Wijewardena Mawatha and the Bastian Mawatha.
Restrictions on street parking will be in place with the possibilities of introducing electronic road pricing to be in place. Another aspect of this traffic demand management is the facilitation of high capacity public transport systems for identified corridors such as the Bus Rapid Transit.
An allocation of Rs. 36.8 million has been made this year for the construction of the Southern Expressway that is to be extended up to Matara and Hambantota, the Outer Circular Highway and the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway spanning a length of 180.9 km.
The road development network was started in Hambantota with about 200 km of the network to be rehabilitated to accommodate bus transport as well, he said.
It was pointed out that within a period of about four years the RDA is likely to complete the road network of Sri Lanka.
In a bid to alleviate congestion the RDA is carrying out a comprehensive study on junctions to identify suitable solutions for important junctions in Colombo and the suburbs.
Premasiri pointed out that they would be conducting transport studies for major cities in the country to identify suitable solutions to prevailing transport problems and to relieve congestion for instance this has been carried out on the Kandy City Transport system.
In addition, construction of road tunnels and flyovers is being initiated in this regard.
With Sri Lanka leading in road density in the region, Premasiri observed that the country’s road network is dense linking with other parts with the Western Province having a high density compared to other provinces.
However, the problem of mobility is mainly due to speed, time and congestion on the road network.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Railways Chief Engineer J. Udaya Kumar addressing the gathering on behalf of the Railways General Manager outlined the construction work underway and the new advancements carried out.
He pointed out that new lengths will be added during the 2011-2012 period of 146 km on the Omanthai/ Kankesanthurai, 107 km along Medawachchiya/Talaimannar, 27 km on the Matara Beliatta roads totaling 280 km. With 16% of the wooden sleepers being over nine years old, it was noted that today the SLR is replacing these with concrete sleepers.
Further, upgrading of the tsunami affected coastline track of 43 km is being carried out from Matara to Galle.
In addition development work is underway for freight lines and yard with a direct line facility for cargo trains operating from seaport to ICD at Sapugaskanda utilising fourth line between Urugodawatte and Kelaniya. It was noted here that the Sri Lanka Ports Authority had suggested for the laying of a railway line from Peliyagoda. Three major projects are being carried out in the north with the possibility to increase the passenger capacity as well. He noted that there is potential of railway lines depending on political will and financial ability.
Moreover, in respect of the institutional capacity of the SLR, the Chief Engineer observed that the cadre for the Railway Department had been approved for maintenance and rehabilitation of infrastructure up to 1,500 km of route length.
In this respect, engineers may have to be requested from other state organisation to work in project management units. Utilisation of consulting service is also proposed for the administration of major contract, he said.