Linking expressways with major roads:
Colombo Outer Circular expressway first phase opens next month
The Outer Circular Expressway to link major expressway projects such
as the Southern Expressway, Northern and Kandy expressways and other
major roads such as Colombo - Avissawella, Colombo - Kandy and Colombo -
Negombo roads through an outer ring of Colombo city is now progressing
with the completion of its first phase from Kottawa to Kaduwela.
It was decades ago that the idea of reducing the huge traffic
congestion within the Colombo metropolitan area was highlighted to make
easier and comfortable the visits to the commercial capital for the
general public. Hence constructing the outer circular road to facilitate
the vehicles to bypass the routes within the Colombo city limits when
travelling to outstations was considered the most appropriate and
effective way of achieving this task.
The 3.3 Km viaduct of the Outer Circular expressway going
through a marshy land near Kaduwela. Pix: Tilak Perera
Overpasses constructed across the expressway
Kottawa entry point
The Kottawa interchange to link the Southern expressway and the
Outers Circular expressway
|Side view of
the 3.3 km viaduct
interchange at Kothalawala, Kaduwela under construction
Though the concept was available for a long period, the
implementation of that concept was delayed due to various reasons. But
today that concept is becoming a reality in a step-by-step process along
with other mega expressways that are being constructed to provide speedy
access to various parts of the country.
"The first phase of the Outer Circular Expressway as an extension of
the southern expressway is due to be open for the motorists on March 8
making yet another leap forward in the road development sector", Project
Minister of Ports, Shipping and Highways Nirmala Kothalawala said.
"Through this expressway we are trying to minimise the traffic
congestion within the Colombo city and also to encourage the development
of Colombo suburbs as major townships", the Minister said.
"We are hoping to develop the Colombo suburban cities such as
Kottawa, Kaduwela and Kadawatha along with this project, he said.
He said all these endeavours are becoming successful due to the
leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to give a brighter future for
the people in this country.
"Before opening for the motorists by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on
March 8 we are opening the expressway for public view on March 4 and 5 .
We are inviting people to walk along and see the longest bridge-like
viaduct in the country during this period", the Minister said.
Explaining the details of the project and its construction aspect
Project Engineer of the Outer Circular Expressway project Wimal Kandambi
said the expressway starts from end point of the Southern Expressway and
runs upto Kerawalapitiya once all the phases of the project are
The total length of the expressway is 29.1 kilometres and it is
divided into three phases. The first 11 kilometres run from Kottawa to
Kaduwela. The second phase from Kaduwela to Kadawatha (8.9 kilometres)
while the third phase runs from Kadawatha to Kerawalapitiya. The length
of that section will be 9.3 kilometres.
"The phase one of the project from Kottawa to Kaduwela is now getting
ready for the opening with the completion of the construction work by
February 28", he said.
The cost involved for the first phase is Rs.24.9 billion and it is
funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency. The China
Harbour Engineering Corporation is the main contractor of the project
and the Oriental Consultant Ltd is acting as the constancy agency for
This phase was started in December 2009 and it was due to be
completed on May 31, 2013. "But due to various reasons it could not be
completed but now the road is going to be open very soon", Kandambi
There will be three interchanges for the first phase of the project,
one will be at Kottawa at the end point of the Southern expressway, the
other at Kothalawala, Kaduwela to connect the expressway with Malabe -
Kaduwela road or the new Kandy Road. In between there will be another
interchange at Pore' Athurugiriya to connect the expressway with Malabe
- Godagama Road.
"But we have not started the construction work at Pore' and work will
commence only after the opening of the expressway", he said.
"Though we are having an interchange at Kothalawala, Kaduwela to open
the first phase of the project, the permanent structure for the Kaduwela
interchange also comes under the phase II of the project. It is
scheduled to be completed in another year. Therefore, a temporary
interchange has been constructed at Kothalawala, Kaduwela to facilitate
the opening of the first phase of the project on March 8", he said.
Within the first phase of the project there are eight overpasses and
two underpasses. "The two underpasses will be for the Kelani Valley
railway line and for the Homagama hospital road at Homagama area.
The eight overpasses will be for Colombo - Avissawella road, Kottawa
- Athurugiriya road, Balika Nivasa road, Nugemulla road, Horahena road,
Suhada Mawatha, Malabe - Godagama road and for Malabe - Kaduwela road.
There are also 78 box culverts and pipe culverts to facilitate the
road", he said.
One of the prominent features of this expressway is the 3.3 kilometre
long viaduct constructed to have this expressway on elevated form across
the marshy land in Mahawela between Pore' and Kothalawala. "This will be
the longest viaduct or the bridge in Sri Lanka", Kandambi said.
"If we fill the marshy land, the retention capacity of the marshy
land will be drastically reduced creating huge flood in the area. To
prevent that we built the expressway on viaduct. If we compare the cost,
the viaduct construction cost is a little high compared to the
embankment construction. But environmentally that is a very big saving
as it reduced the environmental impact", Kandambi said.
"This is a very good concept that we adopted for the Outer Circular
expressway, and for all the phases of the project we adopted the same
concept especially when the expressway is going through the marshy lands
and paddy lands", he said.
Construction of the 3.3 kilometre viaduct was a challenging task and
it was constructed on pile foundation. There are 756 piles, 92 pile
caps, 92 pier stems, and 930 beams to complete the viaduct. It took more
than two years to construct this viaduct.
"Chinese mechanism was used in this construction to remove the beam
placing equipment from one stand to the other without dismantling it.
That mechanism saved a lot of time," he said.
For the embankment construction soil treatment was done to enhance
soil strength to suit the construction purpose, he said.
"Initially we planned this road for vehicle speed of 80 kilometres
per hour. But later it was planned as a Southern expressway
continuation. So the design speed was increased to 100 kilometres per
hour. But since the viaduct section was completed by that time it was
difficult to change design speed in the viaduct area. So for a section
of the viaduct we limited the speed to 80 kilometres per hour and
installed variable speed limits", he said.
"We considered the entire environment surrounding the project and we
received environmental clearance and guidelines from the Central
The contractor was required to provide all the information at the
We have to make sure that the contractor is adopting the
environmental management plan at the implementing stage", he said.
Mechanisms were also adopted to measure the damages to the houses
lying within 50 metres distance either side of the road. There are 480
houses and buildings which lie within this periphery.
We have a big file for every house within that periphery and we have
all the details of the house before the construction commenced. If they
have a crack in the walls we measure the crack from time to time.
Likewise we have a big file for each house.
"Before the start we did the precondition survey and marked all the
damages in those buildings. If there are any cracks developing in those
buildings based on the public complaints we will have an intermediate
survey to ascertain whether the cracks are severe. If cracks are severe
and the building is not safe for the people to live we take people out
and they will be paid a monthly rent for the new place", explaining the
measures taken to measure the damages to nearby houses during the
construction period, he said.
Once the project is completed a final condition survey will be done
and the damages will be estimated by comparing the pre-condition survey
and the final survey.
"We selected the National Building Research Organisation to estimate
whatever the damage. Then that damage will be compensated", he said.
Explaining the measures taken to ensure more environmental friendly
measures, Kandambi said animal underpasses have also been established
where the paddy lands are separated due to road construction.
He said measures have also been taken to implement the project as
quality assurance project by checking all the material used by the
contractor for the construction before using it for any construction
"We were strict on quality and we ensured 100 percent quality of the
material used for the project", he said.