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Work on Outer Circular Highway to be completed year-end:

Highway to link main cities bypassing Colombo



The Kottawa Interchange

When Sri Lanka opened its first highway E-01 on November 27, 2011 it made one of its long awaited dreams a reality, marking its first highway in the Sri Lankan road map. It was just a start and the number of other pending highway projects for implementation was accelerated parallel to the extension of the Southern Highway up to Godagama - Matara.

As the southern end of the Southern Highways was extending towards southwards, the other end of it linked with the Outer Circular Highway (OCH) which was designed to connect to the other highway network towards the other parts of the country from the outer periphery of Colombo city.

Starting from the Kottawa end of the Southern Highways, the Outer Circular Highway is now at the final stages of its first phase and moving like a snake across Kottawa, Pore, Athurugiriya and Kothalawala, to be connected to the Malabe - Kaduwela road at its first phase.

According to the Project Minister of Ports and Highways Nirmala Kothalawala who inspected the progress of the OCH project last Wednesday the first 11 kilometres of the OCH project which was started in December 2009 is due to be completed by the end of this year for the use of the general public.

"We think according to the present progress of the project the first phase of the project can be completed in September this year", Minister Kothalawala added.

The Minister said, when the Government implemented the Southern Highway project it had to face so many challenges as the original design of the southern highway which was originally planned as a two-lane express way had to be changed to a four lane highway and later developed as a six lane highway at its completion.

"This will not happen in the OCH project as it has been designed as a four lane highway and has acquired lands to widen it as a six lane highway in the future. Therefore, there won't be any problem relating to the land acquisition for the project for the future expansion. At the same time we have designed the project in accordance with the accepted international standards", Minister Kothalawala added.


Construction work in progress.
Project Minister of Ports and Highways inspecting the progress of the OCH. Additional Director General RDA, R.M. Amarasekara explains a point to the Minister.
The viaduct under construction across Maha Wela.
Construction work in progress.
Another view of the viaduct

He said almost all the lands required for the second and third phases of the project from Kaduwela to Kadawatha and Kadawatha to Kerawalapitiya have been completed at the cost of Rs. 1.1 billion.

"Though people are talking only about the foreign funding towards this project the Government is also spending lot of funds for the acquisition of lands", the Minister said.

Minister Nirmala Kothalawala said the main purpose of the OCH project is to connect the all leading roads and the proposed highways which are in the process of construction to one road, enabling the motorists to avoid entering the Colombo city to enter their desired road.

For instance, a motorist coming from south towards Katunayake will be able to enter Katunayake express way via OCH once it is completed. The OCH is linking the major highways the Katunayake express way, proposed Colombo Kandy highway or the Northern highway and the Southern highway through this ring road. In addition it will also connect the present High-level road, new Kandy road, Low level road, Kandy road and the present Katunayake road through this ring.

"With the construction of this outer circular road people will be able to reach their desired destinations in other parts of the country bypassing the Colombo city. hey will be able to access the main roads and other by-roads without reaching the Colombo city", he said.

The first phase of the project consisting of 11 kilometres is estimated to cost about Rs. 25 billion and it is being funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The first phase of the project from Kottawa to Kothalawala will include eight overpass bridges across roads one bridge across rail line, one underpass and two ramp bridges.

Minister Kothalawala said though the original plan does not have an access road to Malabe - Athurugiriya road and to Malabe - Kaduwela road they have included two temporary entry - exit points at Pore Athurugiriya to connect the OCH to Malabe - Athurugiriya road and at Kothalwala - Kaduwela to connect the OCH to Malabe - Kaduwela or the new Kandy road. "We made these changes to make use of the first phase of the project without waiting till the completion of the entire project", the Minister said.

The 3.3 km viaduct, a road on pillars, going over the paddy lands between Malabe - Athurugiriya road and Malabe - Kaduwela road is also another prominent feature of the first phase of the project and considered to be the longest viaduct at present.

"Since the highway is going through paddy lands and marshy lands which are used to inundate during rainy season, the highway has been designed as a viaduct or in elevated form without creating a major blockade to the flow of water in that area", Minister Kothalawala said.

The viaduct passing through the famously known Maha Wela in Kothalawala, Kaduwela which retains the water overflowing from Kelani Ganga during rainy season creates a picturesque scene.

It has enabled to minimise the impact on the flood situation in the area as the viaduct does not completely block the flow of water in the area. Unlike constructing the road after filling the land, it also will not separate the communities.

"There are so many environmental issues people are talking about when we are implementing development projects of this nature.

But we have taken steps to avoid and minimise any impact to the environment when implementing the project and we have been careful enough to avoid any construction that will make any impact on the people, but did things for the benefit of the people", Minister Kothalawala said.

He said the entire OCH is about 30 Kilometres and it will have five entry - exit points at Kottawa, Athurugiriya, Kaduwela, Kadawatha, Mattumagala and Kerawalapitiya.

At Kottawa interchange the OCH will be connected to High Level road and the Southern Highway and at Athurugiriya it will be connected the Malabe Athurugiriya road and later it will be connected to the proposed high elevated road to be constructed from Orugodawatta to Pore - Athurugiriya.

At Kaduwela interchange the OCH will be connected to Low Level road while at Kadawatha it will be connected to present Kandy road and to the proposed Kandy express way and the Northern highway.

There will connecting roads at Mattumagala connect the OCH to present Negombo road at Kerawalapitiya to connect the OCH with the Katunayake express way.

The second phase of the project from Kaduwela to Kadawatha will be a 8.9 kilometres road and will also be funded by JICA at a cost of Rs. 45 billion. It will include three bridges across Kelani River at Hewagama, Kaduwela to facilitate the interchange there and it will also have viaduct of 4.7 kilometres.

"Therefore, the cost of the second phase of the project is higher than the first phase", the Minister said.

The second phase of the project is also now in progress to be completed by 2015.

The third phase of the OCH is from Kadawatha to Kerawalapitiya and it will be completed at a cost of Rs.66 billion. The third phase will also be including a six kilometre viaduct, five over-passes and two under-passes.

The construction of the 9.32 km long section from Kadawatha to Kerawalapitiya has been awarded to the Metallurgical Corporation of China Ltd, at a contract price of 66.7 billion rupees. China's EXIM Bank is funding the third phase of the project.

"Therefore we are expecting to complete the entire project by 2016", the Minister said.

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