Three mega road projects to be launched next year, trip to Kandy in 75 minutesBy Damith Wickremasekara
Three mega expressway projects, including one to the north through Polonnaruwa and Trincomalee, will be launched next year, officials said yesterday.
Funding for the projects estimated to cost US$ 13.4 billion (Rs. 1,900 billion) will come from multiple sources including China, the Asian Development Bank and local avenues, Road Development Authority Director General M.P.K.L Gunaratne told the Sunday Times.
He said the expressway to the Central Province will be the first to be started in March next year, followed by the expressway between Kahathuduwa and Pelmadulla and then the northern project.The northern expressway would start from Dambulla and cut across Polonnaruwa, Kantale, Trincomalee and Mullaitivu to reach Jaffna. It is estimated to cost US$ 5.5 billion.
He said that earlier the plan was for the northern expressway to be built through Vavuniya and Kilinochchi.
RDA Chairman Nihal R. Sooriyaarachchi said the change was made to cater to the needs of the Trincomalee harbour and the thriving tourism industry there. He said acquiring lands for the new expressway would also be easier as it would pass through largely uninhabited areas.
He said that currently the RDA believed the A9 road to Jaffna through Vavuniya and Kilinochchi was sufficiently developed.
Central Expressway Project Director L.V.S. Weerakoon said this expressway would be built in four stages with construction taking place simultaneously and more than 20 km of the road would be on elevated structures.
The first stage of 37 km from Kadawatha to Mirigama would be funded by China. The second stage of 49 km from Mirigama to Kurunegala and the Ambepussa link road would be funded by the ADB while the third stage of 32.5 km from Pothuhera to Galagedara would be built with local funding. For the stage four of 60 km from Kurunegala to Dambulla, the funding source is yet to be determined, as is the final part from Galagedara to Katugastota.
He said the 48 km Ruwanpura project from Kahathuduwa to Ratnapura would cost US$ 1.5 billion and the 23 km from Ratnapura to Pelmadulla would cost US$ 2.2 billion. Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella told the Sunday Times that once the central expressway project was completed the travel time between Colombo and Kandy would be about one hour and 15 minutes compared to the four and half hours now.
Mr. Kiriella said they hoped to complete the Kandy expressway in three years. There would be service stations and fuel stations in Mirigama with extra safety features where the expressway passes through hills and difficult terrain.