x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Dubai-Al Ain E-66 motorway to be improved

Expansion works will increase the number of lanes on 'harrowing', narrow road to four.

DUBAI // Works to expand the E-66 motorway should soon reduce the number of accidents on Dubai's fourth-most dangerous road.

Improvements to the Dubai-Al Ain route are scheduled for completion in September and include increasing the number of lanes in each direction to four.

Last year, there were 36 serious accidents involving 55 vehicles on the route, leading to 29 injuries and seven deaths, according to Dubai Police. These represented 3.6 per cent of injuries and 4.6 per cent of deaths on roads last year.

Some drivers say the road is a major test of their nerves.

"It's a harrowing drive," said Elaine Jones, 49, an American who works as a home-care nurse in Al Ain and lives in Dubai. "People speed by like madmen. I'm constantly tailgated and bullied by bigger cars."

On the Abu Dhabi side of the motorway, 53 kilometres from Al Ain, the road suddenly narrows to two lanes where construction is ongoing. There is no service lane, leaving those whose vehicle has broken down at the mercy of oncoming traffic and those with large vehicles struggling to pass lorries that often do not, or cannot, stay in their lane.

"That's the most dangerous thing about the highway," said Mustafa Haleem, 41, an Egyptian agricultural engineer. "It's the big trucks that can't fit in their lane. I worry that my car will be sideswiped by a truck driver. I've had a few close calls."

Construction on the motorway began in 2008, at a cost of Dh780 million, to meet the projected social and economic development of Al Ain. Since work began, a number of bridges and tunnels have been built as part of the expansion. Motorists say the route changes on a weekly basis, with numerous diversions.

Before construction began, the speed limit was 120kph with speed cameras set at 140kph. These were cut to 100kph and 120kph respectively after work began. A number of speed cameras have also been removed and drivers have been observed travelling at over 170kph on these stretches.

Al Ain Traffic Police said that mobile cameras had been deployed in areas where the fixed cameras had been removed. When construction came to an end the fixed cameras would return and more would be added.

ealghalib@thenational.ae