x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Al Ain municipality unveils Dh119m project to ease 'school road' congestion

Work on the project started during the schools' summer holiday and is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2014.

Pupils arrive at Al Sanawbar School along Khalid bin Sultan Street in Al Ain. The Dh119m roads plan should alleviate some of the congestion as up to 32,000 pupils are driven to school each day in the area. Christopher Pike / The National
Pupils arrive at Al Sanawbar School along Khalid bin Sultan Street in Al Ain. The Dh119m roads plan should alleviate some of the congestion as up to 32,000 pupils are driven to school each day in the area. Christopher Pike / The National

AL AIN // A Dh119 million project to alleviate congestion in Al Ain’s “school road” has been revealed by the city’s municipality.

Work on the project has started during the school summer break and it is expected to be finished in the third quarter of next year.

A 2-kilometre stretch of Khaled bin Sultan Street, between Hazza bin Sultan Street and Zayed Al Awal Street, in Falaj Hazzaa, is home to 33 Arabic and English schools serving more than 32,000 pupils and, on weekday mornings, the area is packed as children arrive by car, bus and taxi.

The project will see four roundabouts being converted to traffic junctions, which will include new interchanges, roads and traffic lights.

Saleh Al Aryani, the director of the traffic improvement project at the municipality, said: “The project will be implemented in four phases.

“The first phase will see construction of a dedicated road for school buses behind private schools that is expected to reduce pressure on the car parking area.”

The second phase will involve replacing two roundabouts with signal-controlled interchanges while the third phase, Mr Al Aryani said, involves the expansion of roads around the schools and the creation of a number of roundabouts.

The fourth and final stage will include the conversion of roundabouts at Choueifat School and at the Al Ain Traffic Department into signal-regulated junctions.

It will also see 880 parking spaces created in a new car park. The car park will have separate entry and exit gates, to further aid the flow of traffic.

To minimise interruption during the roadworks, the municipality has sought the cooperation of various engineering and transport organisations to develop a schedule.

The flow of traffic in the area was also studied in an attempt to create diversions and road closures that least affect the public.

“The project has also been initiated at a time when schools are closed for the summer vacation,” Mr Al Aryani said, adding that the area has faced major traffic congestion in recent years and there was also a need for the building  of more pedestrian crossings and walkways.

According to municipality, the project is part of a strategic plan for 2010 to 2014 for sustainable urban development.

It is expected to not only reduce the growing traffic congestion but provide an easy and safe way to reach the schools.

The result of persistent traffic congestion in the area is that it had also become prone to accidents.

In April last year, a staggered school start time was introduced, which gave some respite to parents, pupils and teachers.

Schools now start at 7.30am, 8am or 8.15am and classes finish at 1pm, 1.30pm or 1.45pm.

Last year, Al Ain Municipality also stopped issuing new permits for the building of schools in the region as well as permits that allow schools to extend their premises, which results in an increase in the number of pupils and vehicles.

The municipality has also been carrying out trials in the area, with the help of the area’s private school committee, which has studied the traffic problem of Falaj Hazzaa, and representatives from the Department of Transport, Urban Planning Council of Abu Dhabi (UPC), Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) and Abu Dhabi Police.

The municipality also coordinated plans with Adec and UPC to revise distribution of future school plots, in accordance with the authorities’ guidelines in relation to private school requirements in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

anwar@thenational.ae