x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Traffic projects get the green light

Motorway to Saudi border and light-rail transit system among projects receiving funding.

Funding has been approved for four Department of Transport (DoT) projects by the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.

They are the Mafraq-Ghweifat motorway to the Saudi border, the Dubai-Abu Dhabi motorway, a metro and light-rail transit system and the alleviation of Abu Dhabi's traffic congestion.

Further details about budgets, project design and completion dates have yet to be released.

The Mafraq-Ghweifat motorway links the urban area south of Abu Dhabi to the Saudi Arabian border and is part of a strategy to develop industry, tourism and social development in the Western Region.

Almost 3.5 million passengers crossed the Ghweifat border last year. The region has 9 per cent of the emirate's population and 58 fatal crashes per year, according to the most current police statistics. Road fatalities are double the national average.

The new three-lane, 327-kilometre motorway will run parallel to the existing two-lane road, the main thoroughfare in the region.

The plan includes drainage tunnels, underpasses for livestock, petrol stations, ambulance points and bridges for safer turning.

The existing two-lane motorway, where people often drive at speeds of more than 140kph, has U-turns and is largely unlit.

The project previously went to tender under a public-private partnership basis in 2010.

In May, the DoT said it was re-evaluating plans to use a public-private partnership to build the Dh10billion motorway, which has been in development since 2009.

Bidding companies spent millions in the tendering process.

Support for the new Abu Dhabi-Dubai motorway indicates a positive feasibility study, but the DoT has yet to release further details about design.

The first light-rail transit (LRT) segment is expected to be operational by 2016-17. The DoT earlier stated that the preliminary design would be finished by this summer. No further details were provided.

"The Abu Dhabi metro and LRT projects are currently under feasibility studies and the results will be announced accordingly," a DoT statement said.

The fourth project is the alleviation of traffic congestion in Abu Dhabi city, in coordination with the Road Safety Project for Abu Dhabi Municipality, now in its implementation stage, and the Safety and Traffic Solutions Committee, a group comprising the DoT, the Department of Municipal Affairs, Abu Dhabi Police and the Urban Planning Council.

The project will also address pedestrian and cyclist safety.

azacharias@thenational.ae