x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Abu Dhabi road safety overhaul

The country's most dangerous road will be getting safer by the end of the year, says the Department of Transport.

Alterations will begin on Khalifa bin Zayed Street next year, with the UPC recommendations likely to be rolled out in Al Ain and Al Gharbia later.
Alterations will begin on Khalifa bin Zayed Street next year, with the UPC recommendations likely to be rolled out in Al Ain and Al Gharbia later.

ABU DHABI // Officials today announced widescale improvements and alterations to the emirate's roads in the hope that they will lead to another big change: improved safety. A design manual unveiled by the Urban Planning Council (UPC) will guide the design of future roads. But in the present, Department of Transport officials say improvements to the 327km Al Mafraq-Al Ghweifat motorway should erase its reputation as the most dangerous road in Abu Dhabi. Fourteen per cent of the emirate's wrecks occurred on the motorway in 2007. Ibrahim al Hmoudi of the UPC's transport section said good street design would be "vital to safety and quality of life to the people of Abu Dhabi". One of the UPC's proposed changes is to reduce the number of lanes on Abu Dhabi roads from three to two. That would allow pavements to be widened for bicycle lanes or shade for pedestrians. Mr al Hmoudi said it also would lead to a natural calming effect, reducing speeds on the roads. The so-called superblock layout in the capital would be broken up by intersections and more zebra crossings, which would increase crossing opportunities for pedestrians. In the future, the capital's streets also will have fewer right lanes at traffic lights, meaning all vehicles must stop for traffic, making it easier to cross roads on foot. Alterations of Khalifa bin Zayed Street will begin next year, with the UPC recommendations likely to be rolled out in Al Ain and Al Gharbia later. The move was welcomed on the street yesterday, with Limbo Ramez, a Nepalese electrician, saying it was crucial to close up unofficial pedestrian crossings. "It is not just me, it is everybody," he said. "If there is no gap, nobody will cross - very simple." Among the improvements announced by the transport department yesterday for the Al Mafraq-Al Ghweifat motorway, which will cost about Dh40 million (US$11m), were new warning signs and the closing of dangerous U-turns, where drivers face turning into oncoming traffic at high speeds. The motorway, the main thoroughfare between the capital and the Saudi border, is heavily used by lorries. igale@thenational.ae mchung@thenational.ae