x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Lorries banned from Salam Street

Lorries travelling between Musaffah and the Meena Port area will be banned from driving through the city centre, authorities said yesterday.

Pedestrians wait for a truck pass to cross the street in front of Abu Dhabi Mall.
Pedestrians wait for a truck pass to cross the street in front of Abu Dhabi Mall.

Abu Dhabi // Lorries travelling between Musaffah and the Meena Port area will be banned from driving through the city centre, authorities said yesterday. From Thursday, lorries coming from the industrial area should travel to the port area via the recently opened Sheikh Khalifa Bridge and vice versa, Abu Dhabi Municipality said. Those who break the rule will be fined, the authority said in a statement, though fine amounts were not disclosed.

The move is expected to relieve congestion on the island, particularly in the Tourist Club area and along Salam Street, which is being streamlined at a cost of Dh5 billion. A ban on lorries over 2.5 tonnes entering the island from 6am to 8am, as well as from 1pm to 3pm, will continue, the municipality said. All traffic accessing the port via Salam Street has been diverted to a road passing in front of Abu Dhabi Mall, which is badly jammed during rush hour.

Since work began on Salam Street, shop owners and residents have complained about the impact on businesses and the extra traffic congestion in an already busy zone. Sami al Mandhari, 25, who works at the HSBC building near the Abu Dhabi Municipality building at the Salam Street and Al Falah Street junction, said clients had been insisting on meeting at the bank's main branch on Airport Road rather than come to his location.

"They are refusing to come here," said Mr al Mandhari. He said a ban on lorries would definitely help ease the congestion. "We are getting a lot of lorries," he said. "The traffic, you can see the whole way is blocked." Helen Rashid, owner of Helen Beauty Centre, said her business had suffered so much that she chose to relocate her make-up and tattoo parlour to Airport Road near Al Saada Street. While she said the move was too late for her, she thought the decision should benefit shop owners still on Salam Street.

"Nobody can come to me there," she said, adding that the lorries were a big part of the congestion. Tom Thomas, the general manager of the haulage company ADSO, which has lorries operating out of Musaffah, said his drivers had already been advised to use the Sheikh Khalifa Bridge route, which opened on October 14, to avoid congestion in the city. "It is good that city congestion can be avoided," he said. "The road construction is creating a big difficulty for us. Maybe we will have to travel a little more distance, but if it is safe, we will be using that only."

The opening of the Sheikh Khalifa Bridge paved the way for a new route off the island. The 10-lane road creates a bypass around Abu Dhabi Island from the E10 motorway. The 27km route offers drivers a high-speed link between Port Zayed, near the Corniche, and the motorway in the Shahama district. It passes through some of the highest-profile development projects in the country, including the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Louvre Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island, designed to be the cultural centre of the capital. Lorry drivers going to Musaffah will now have to pass through Raha Street, the Yas Island intersection and Saadiyat Island before crossing the bridge to enter the port area, the municipality said.

The diversion is a substitute to the current route using Maqta Bridge to reach Salam Street. Variable sign boards will be set up to direct lorry drivers, an official working on the Salam Street project said. Work on the two-year Salam Street project is expected to be completed by October, with some sections ready for vehicles in May. When completed, the project will create a freeway that allows vehicles to travel from the Meena area to the under-construction Sheikh Zayed Bridge without facing a traffic signal and will carry double the amount of vehicles that the Salam Street could handle.

Its centrepiece, a 3.2km tunnel running under Salam Street from Meena Road to Al Falah Street, will be the last of the work to be completed. The last available lanes of Salam Street in the Tourist Club Area were closed in December to allow for excavation work. @Email:mchung@thenational.ae