Southern expressway extension from Galle to Matara by
Ninety-minute drive from Colombo to Matara
"To provide an adequate and efficient network of national highways,
to ensure mobility and accessibility at an acceptable level of safety
and comfort, in an environment-friendly manner for the movement of
people and goods in the socio-economic development of the nation", was
the mission of the Ministry of Highways when it completed the National
Road Master Plan (NRMP) in 2007, after a great effort was made for two
years commencing from 2005.
The preparation of the National Road Master Plan was in conformity
with the Mahinda Chinthana manifesto presented by President Mahinda
Rajapaksa aiming 'to provide accessibility to all population in the
country and to have a high and quality mobility road network for the
transportation of passengers and goods' in its effort to making Sri
Lanka the 'Wonder of Asia'.
The preparation of the NRMP was a timely effort firstly because the
'transport in Sri Lanka is overwhelmingly roads-based and a large
portion of the network is in a poor condition and has become an
impediment to efficient transport'.
Secondly, it is a key input into overall national income generation,
the Government's development strategy has to count on a reliable
transport system and the support from a coherent long-term approach to
transport development. Thirdly, Sri Lanka's integration in the global
economy rests also on efficient transport logistics, which, among other
factors, is a determinant of the country's trade competitiveness'.
Therefore, the NRMP gave strong emphasis for the construction of the
Expressways and Highways and it accounts for the highest share (36
percent) in the NRMP investment and gave emphasis on six major projects
with a length of 594 km and an estimated cost of Rs. 238.3 billion
spread over the entire program period of the NRMP spanning from 2007 to
The construction of Colombo-Katunayake expressway (25.1 km), Southern
Expressway (130 km), Outer Circular Highway (28 km), Colombo Kandy
Expressway (98 km), Colombo-Jaffna Expressway(213 km) and the Extension
Southern Expressway (100 km) were the major projects that have been
given top most priority by the NRMP.
Sri Lanka saw the first outcome of this NRMP prepared under the
directive of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, when it opened the first ever
'E' grade road on November 27, 2011, heralding a renaissance in the
highways sector of the country providing faster connectivity to the
southern part of the country.
However, it was only a part of a bigger project of connecting the
southern town of Matara to the metro Colombo and the balance of the
project is now underway to complete the entire project providing access
to southern city of Matara within one and half hours.
When the first phase of the Southern Highway which was opened on
November 27, 2011 is now operating in full swing with an average of
10,000 vehicles operating on the highway on daily basis earning a daily
income of the Rs. 3 million per day to the Road Development Authority
the second phase of the project is also now going on at a speedy phase
to be completed by the end of this year.
According to Project Director of the Southern Highway, Nimal
Chandrasiri more than 60 percent of the work of the project from
Pinnaduwa to Godagama has been completed by the contractors.
"The project was due to be completed at the end of April but due to
various factors the contractor could not complete the project and now
they have been asked to complete the project by August this year. They
are trying their best to complete the project and we hope that the road
will be ready by the end of this year," Chandrasiri told the Sunday
According to Chandrasiri, the original design of the expressway was
drafted as a two-lane design, previously stretching from
Kurundugahahetekma to Matara, was changed later to expand the highway to
a four lane highway. By the time the design was changed more than 11
kilometres out of the 30 kilometres stretch from Pinnaduwa to Godagama
have been constructed and that section is now being expanded to a four
The section from Pinnaduwa (Galle) to Godagama which is about 35km is
financed by the Export and Import Bank of China.
"This stretch of the highway will also have the same features the
first section of the road from Kottawa to Pinnaduwa and there will be
three interchanges to connect the main cities in the south with this
highway", he said.
The first interchange after Pinnaduwa will be at Imaduwa, to connect
the highway with Galle-Akuressa Road. The other interchange will be
there at Kokmaduwa. "Presently we called that interchange as Kokmaduwa
interchange and there is a possibility to change the name as Weligama
interchange. That interchange will connect the highway with
Weligama-Kananke Road", he said.
The last interchange will be at Godagama to connect the southern
expressway to Matara via Akuressa-Matara Road.
"The Godagama interchange will be a temporary one like the Kottawa
interchange which was there at the opening of the highway and it will be
fully changed once the southern highway is extended upto Beliatta", he
This section of the project will have four bridges, 46 underpasses,
12 box culverts and 236 pipe culverts.
He said the extension of the Southern Highway from Godagama to
Beliatta is now at the designing stage and the Godagama interchange will
be fully constructed once the Godagama-Beliatta section of the highways
is constructed under a different project.
According to Chandrasiri, at the final stage the highway will be
extended upto Hambantota and Mattala and that part of the project is
under designing stage.
Asked whether there are any changes in that section of the project
based on the feedback they receive from the motorists he said there were
no major criticism over the first section of the Southern Highway.
"At the initial stages there were criticism that the paved part of
the road is not sufficient for the vehicles to park by the side of the
road in an even of a breakdown of a vehicle. However, this has not
become a problem as yet because the road is not congested. There is no
huge traffic along the road. The road is not having traffic sufficient
for two lanes even. Therefore, that will not be a problem at all since
the road is having four lanes. The traffic of the road will be gradually
build up in the years to come according to the projections we made when
the road was designed", he said.
"When we are calculating the toll for the road we are calculating how
the traffic will increase on the road and we have calculated the traffic
along the road to recover the project cost within 40 years after the
completion of the road. We are taking a traffic projection when we are
doing that calculation and we are within that projections", he said.
"We are targeting to improve this highway into a six lane highway. In
the second section of the road also we are clearing the trace to
accommodate six lanes. We are leaving that stretch for earth filling
when the construction is going on", he said.
"Once completed this highway will enable to reduce the travel time
from Colombo to Matara from four and half hours to one and half hours to
two hours", he said.
The project will help improve transport facilities for future
development of Southern Region and it will act as a catalyst in
encouraging and attracting industries and services for the Economic and
Social development of the region. It will also promote inter-regional
transport facilities by developing this road, considering it as a major
component of the proposed expressway network.
The main objectives of the project are also aimed at reducing the
travel time between Colombo and Matara, reduce traffic congestion on
Colombo-Matara Road, and reduce delay costs, fuel costs there by
contributing to national economy. Attracting private sector investors
and there by contributing to expand the job market, development of
fisheries, agriculture, industries in the region, expanding tourism
presently confined to the coastal belt, along Colombo-Galle-Matara to
more inner areas of the southern province, development of Galle Port,
Development of the towns belong to 11 interchanges as Economic Centres
and enhancing the value of land and property in the region are also
among the objectives to be achieved under this project.
However, the people of the country will be able to enjoy the true
benefit of this expressway once this highway is connected to the other
expressways which are now under construction, through the outer circular
highway which is being built as a ring road to connect all these
expressways together giving easy access to all parts of the country as
stipulated in the National Road Master Plan.