Salam Street is expected to completely open in early 2012.
Salam Street 'ready by early 2012'
ABU DHABI //The Dh5 billion Salam Street reconstruction project will be completed early next year, according to the latest update by municipality officials.
The work, which includes a 3.1 kilometre tunnel between Mina Road and Al Falah Street, has been hampered by "dense underground utilities networks, as well as a large volume of vehicular traffic on a daily basis".
The project to expand the road to more than double its original capacity began in October 2007 and was expected to take three years. Officials said in March it would be finished last month. The expected completion date is now the first quarter of 2012, the municipality says.
"What is perceived as delay in the project is in fact sequencing the delivery of the project phases to best fit the operational needs of the downtown infrastructure.
"Further, there have been various upgrades to the project's scope of works to deliver a vehicular tunnel with advanced operating systems."
When the road is completed there will be no traffic signals between Sheikh Zayed Bridge and Mina Zayed.
Part of the new road has been in use for some time, although two lanes near the junction with 31st Street were temporarily closed to traffic in June.
Motorists said they had seen little progress on that stretch since then. "There has been no improvement," said Khalifa Al Hassani, who travels on Salam Street every day.
Inbound traffic is about 7,000 vehicles during morning hours and outbound traffic is about 5,600 vehicles, more than double the usage before construction began. The municipality estimates about 126,000 vehicles will eventually use the road each weekday.
“The corridor provides four lanes in each direction with an additional capacity of about 8,000 vehicles per hour, per direction,” the official said.
“This encourages drivers to use the corridor and shifts the traffic away from Muroor Road and Airport Road, which improves traffic operation and reduces congestion.”
The final phase, which has most affected residents and local businesses, is from Hazza bin Zayed Street (11th Street, or Defence Road) to Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank on Mina Road.
Despite delays, officials say the project has not run over budget.
The completed urban expressway will have five tunnels and pedestrian walkways over the road.
The municipality said other traffic calming measures would be undertaken as part of infrastructure improvements across the city.
Plans include adding traffic lanes and optimising signal timings.
Additionally, the municipality plans to introduce 12 new junctions with signals “to improve accessibility, connectivity and traffic circulation”.