Southern Expressway final stage to be opened | Sunday Observer

Southern Expressway final stage to be opened

 An interchange of the Southern Expressway
An interchange of the Southern Expressway

Heralding a new era in the Sri Lankan construction sector, the final stage of the Southern Expressway will be opened on February 23, for seamless travel from Colombo airport Katunayake to Hambantota.

With the completion of the four stages of the Southern Expressway, drivers could switch from one expressway to another.

The first expressway in Sri Lanka was the Southern Expressway from Kottawa to Galle which was built and opened when Mahinda Rajapaksa was the President.

The expressway was later extended to Marata. A section from Hambantota to Mattala was also constructed. However, two sections which linked the highway were left out.

The 21.8 kilometre of road from Barawakumbuka to Mattala via Andarawewa and the 16.6 kilometre section from Andarawewa to Hambantota of the Southern Expressway will be opened on February 23 for public travel, according to the Road Development Authority.

Construction work on the 96km extension of the Southern Expressway consisted of four phases: in the first phase, 30 km section from Matara to Beliatta, in the second phase, 26 km section from Beliatta to Barawakumbuka, in the third phase, 15 km from Barawakumbuka to Andarawewa and in the fourth stage, 25 km from Andarawewa to Hambantota and Mattala.

Work on the third and fourth phases, including access roads and the flyovers for by-roads that cross the expressway has been completed. Tunnels for animals to cross the highway have also been built. The expressway has been built on pillars in agricultural valleys with water tunnels and an elephant fence.

The road from Barawakumbuka to Andarawewa constructed in the third stage includes a 600-metre bridge across the Walawe River. The road runs through the Mahaweli Agricultural area of the Walawe Valley.

Phase four runs from the Andarawewa interchange and to Mattala via Hambantota.

In Phases three and four, other roads can be accessed through the Barawakumbuka, Sooriyawewa, Andarawewa interchanges and Mattala - Hambantota entrance.

The cost of the project, jointly implemented by the Ministry of Highways and Petroleum Development and the Road Development Authority, is Rs. 250 billion.

The 96-kilometre project was undertaken by three Chinese companies, with a $1.9 billion concessional loan from the Export-Import Bank of China.

“Road systems around highways should be widened considering future needs,” Minister of Roads and Highways, Ports and Shipping, Johnston Fernando said during an inspection tour of the southern expressway extension work from Matara to Hambantota through Mattala last week.

He said service areas would lead to the evolution of new towns and create job and business opportunities for villagers.

The Minister advised officials to widen roads connecting highway interchanges with urban areas and also directed officials to fast-track construction work on the expressway.

“The former Government opened the extension of the Southern Expressway prior to the completion of constructions. Yet our Government will complete construction work on the Southern expressway extension from Matara to Hambantota in the first quarter of this year.

That is an essential project. We expect it to be completed in April, Roads and Highways, Ports and Shipping Minister Johnston Fernando said after inspecting expressway construction work.

The Southern Expressway extension will speed up traffic between Matara and Hambantota and promote the flow of people and transportation of goods between Hambantota and Colombo.

Hambantota district MP Namal Rajapaksa said that this extension will connect the country’s two main ports and airports, enabling easy transfer of goods and passengers,” he said.

The Government will also build service areas with modern facilities and easy access for travellers.

With the opening of the two sections of the Southern Expressway, motorists from Matara can enter the expressway from Barawakumbuka and travel to Sooriyaweva, Hambantota, Mattala and Kataragama within a short period.

“It is significant that construction work has been completed in an eco-friendly manner,” Road Development Authority Chairman Chaminda Athaluwage said.

He said Sri Lanka has only 120,000 KM of roads. “Under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s vision, all these roads would be redeveloped in five years. The first step would be taken on February 19 from Gampola,” Athaluwage said.

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