ABU DHABI // The municipality says all work on the Salam Street project is on schedule and will be completed by the end of the year. Indeed, a key road - Delma Street - will be connected with Salam this month, a contractor said last week. But many of the details and deadlines remain unclear. The entire Dh5 billion (US$1.4bn) project began in October 2007, with work on the 3.2-kilometre tunnel from Al Falah Street to the Mina area beginning in December 2008.
As of this March, the tunnel was half-completed, officials said. A municipal official had said in December 2009 that the project would finish in October 2010, with the tunnel the last piece to open. The entire project was 65 per cent complete as of March, it said. Sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the plan is to complete the construction in the heart of the city in stages, with surface-level roads running parallel to the tunnel opening in September, followed by the tunnel opening later.
No specific dates were available. In the end, planners say, the result will be a road where motorists can drive from Maqta Bridge to the Corniche without hitting a signal. The underpass near the Sea Palace was opened last month and work on surface roads continues. Mohammed Nafe, project manager from Nurol LLC, the contractors on the expansion work being done from Al Falah Street (9th) to 29th Street, said other parts of the road in that area would open in the coming months. The second underpass, near Al Falah Street, however, could not open until work on the tunnel finishes, he said.
Meanwhile, Tarek Radi, projects manager from Mohammed Abdulmohsin Al-Kharafi & Sons LLC, who are doing the roadworks on Salam from 29th Street to near Khalifa Park, said the company expected all construction there to be done by August. One underpass near Khalifa Park opened in February. Terry Curell, a resident whose building overlooks the tunnel construction at near Al Falah and Salam streets, said work looked to be progressing quickly.
"I look out and see what they have done for the day and they are making terrific progress," said Mr Curell, 59, a helicopter pilot. "I'm just really happy they are working so hard on it." Business owners, who say they have lost customers since the roadworks began, said they were eager to see the end of construction and are frustrated with a lack of information from the municipality. Abu Dana, commercial manager of Al Mushrif Rent a Car, said he had been renting about 10 cars a day before the construction began.
Last week, he said he had rented just three cars for the week and just one on the day. The tunnel construction means a hole in the ground has taken the place of the parking lot where he used to place cars and his storefront looks out on to a construction site with no traffic. "Now you can't see anybody," he said. "Lots of people used to pass this on Salam Street." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org