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The tram launch has been pushed back to November 2014.
The tram launch has been pushed back to November 2014.

Dubai Marina residents told roadworks to end next year

The road and tram line between Jumeirah Beach Residence and the Marina has been under construction for three years, forcing residents to drive on a temporary road outside the towers.

DUBAI // Motorists in the Marina development will have to wait until the second half of next year for an end to the roadworks.

The road and tram line between Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) and the Marina has been under construction for three years, forcing residents to drive on a temporary road outside the 40-storey-plus towers.

A senior Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) official says the main work on the 10-kilometre first phase of the line will be completed by the middle of next year.

"We should be almost completed because then we can start testing the line and the carriages [for the new tram]," said Ahmad Al Hammadi, the chief executive of the RTA's Rail Agency.

"It will be mainly small civil works here and there, but the main works should be done by then."

The tram line will share that side of the road and will continue over to the other side on an elevated track that has just been completed along Sheikh Zayed Road.

Work on the tram line, originally due to open last year, slowed because of the economic downturn. The tram launch has been pushed back to November 2014.

"Now we have secured the financial package and the project will be kicking off within the coming three months back to full scale," Mr Al Hammadi said.

He said the contractors had been increasing manpower and productivity in the past few months. The disruptions have been going on so long that residents of Dubai Marina said it had become part of the Marina lifestyle.

"I've always known the Marina to have the middle of the roads dug up so any improvement would be better," said Grace Clarke, 34.

The sales executive said traffic was worse at the weekends and hoped the first phase of the work would reduce the number of cars on the road, "although it seems a lot of young guys like to drive around here and I doubt they will want to cruise around in a tram".

The first phase will go past Media City, Knowledge Village and the Police Academy, then loop back towards the Marina.

No date has been announced for the completion of the second phase, which will go as far as Mall of the Emirates and serve the Madinat Jumeirah area.

"If the roads were even straight it might make driving around here easier," said Mark Ashton, 45, a telecommunications specialist from Britain.

"Sometimes cars pull up at the side and you can't even pass them, which makes matters worse.

"The area is a nightmare on the weekends. There are no yellow boxes on the light junctions which get clogged by everyone trying to get down to [JBR walk]."

He was not optimistic that a tram would make much of difference in traffic.

"Of course the roadworks slow down the traffic but if the tram actually takes cars off the roads, I'll take it back," Mr Ashton said. "There are a lot of other factors down here that add to the traffic."

Mr Al Hammadi said the completion of the tram project was one of the RTA's priorities.

"The tram also intersects with the [Metro] Red Line at two stations and those using the Metro can change over," he said.

"It will give public transport more edge and connectivity."

eharnan@thenational.ae

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