Rajagiriya flyover completion by January : Elation in elevation | Sunday Observer

Rajagiriya flyover completion by January : Elation in elevation

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For the daily commuters of the Colombo City, traffic congestion is an inherent part of travel experience. Those travelling during rush hours spend around 45 minutes at one point, at a time. On rainy days, the situation is worse.

The entrance to Rajagiriya from Kotte was one area where traffic congestion was at its worse.

The Rajagiriya flyover project, which is currently underway, was launched with the objective of reducing traffic congestion on Sri Jayawardenapura Mawatha and the Rajagiriya Junction.

The flyover construction, funded by a Rs. 4.7 Billion grant by Spain, is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Future plans

According to the Traffic Study for Impact Evaluation of Proposed Flyover at Rajagiriya Intersection, the total length of the flyover is 533 metres and the total width, 21.4 metres, with a total of four lanes, two lanes each way.

Speaking of the project, Road Development Authority, Project Engineer, Himantha Jayalath said, the basic construction is expected to be completed by the end of the year and road sign placement and landscaping will be accomplished after the infrastructure is complete.

“This will probably take place during the first two weeks of January. Therefore, the flyover will probably open to the public by the end of January,” he said.

The contractual completion of the flyover was targeted for the end of 2018. Speaking on the advancing of the completion date, Jayalath said, the RDA managed to acquire land earlier than expected, hence the early completion.

The Traffic Study states, the present condition of traffic volume in the area is over 100,000 vehicles a day. “With the construction of the flyover, vehicle speeds are estimated to increase eightfold,” he said.

The contractor for the project is Centunion, Española de Coordinación Técnica y Financiera S.A. Spain, and the sub contractor is Access Engineering PLC. “RDA is continuously keeping track of the ongoing construction,” Jayalath assured.

University of Moratuwa, Department of Transport and Logistics Management, Senior Professor, Amal Kumarage says, the flyover, expressway and tunnel construction are not viable solutions to the problem of congestion. “The flyover will clear the traffic at the Rajagiriya Junction and replace it at every few hundred meters, creating a bottleneck at every next junction.” According to Jayalath, traffic congestion at the HSBC, Gateway College and Welikada junctions, is mainly due to cross traffic.

Long term solutions for congestion

“As soon as the construction of the flyover is completed, we are going to implement a mechanism to address these issues. We are going to direct all the cross traffic under the flyover, with easy turning,” he said.

One of the main problems contributing to traffic congestion in Rajagiriya and other areas in the country is the increase in the number of privately owned motor vehicles, over the years. The existing road systems cannot withstand the influx of vehicles at peak hours.

Speaking of measures to control the number of vehicles on the roads, Prof. Kumarage said, controlling ownership via taxation is a short sighted, ad hoc policy and not a recommended solution for Sri Lanka as per studies conducted by him.

“Economic regulation and imposing tariff is the method by which this supply and demand dynamics for road space could be controlled. This is a concept referred to as transport demand management,” he says. He said, the long term solutions to congestion lies in reviving public transport and developing it to incentivize those using private transport to use public transport instead.

“For this purpose, there are proposals of implementing the Sahasara bus reform nationwide and the light rail transit (LRT).

Prof. Kumarage added that implementing the bus lane in Rajagiriya was one way of battling congestion. “A bus lane carries four times more people than any other lane of traffic.

In Rajagiriya, if 10 percent of private vehicles move to the bus lane, there will be less congestion.

According to him the bus lane in Rajagiriya moves at an average speed of 15kmph while other lanes move at an average speed of 10kmph,” he said.

Economic costs of congestion

Prof. Kumarage said, congestion is a huge economic drain. He added, in Sri Lanka, overall, the costs of road construction is Rs. 200 Bn, vehicle imports cost a further Rs. 200 Bn, while fuel and value of time spent in congestion costs Rs. 300 Bn each.

“60 to 65 per cent of this cost is accounted for by the Western Province. Also, we spend 10 per cent of our GDP on transporting,” he says, emphasizing the necessity for an efficient transport system for the economy. According to the Traffic Study on the Rajagiriya flyover construction, as a result of the flyover, Rs. 18,777 can be saved from the reduction of emissions.

Prof. Kumarage adds, there are proposals to build an elevator of highway from Peliyagoda to Rajagiriya.

He said, Rajagiriya is already a highly congested area, without the influx of traffic from another area.

“This is the folly of archaic, limited thinking in transportation and highway planning. Sri Lanka spends three to four times of world standards on expenditure on road construction, increasing the debt. This in turn increases our taxes and cost of living,” he said. 

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