x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Traffic to get worse on Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway

A two-year project will expand the stretch of the E11 motorway, used by 4,500 vehicles hourly, from four lanes to six and build a 10-lane interchange to the Khalifa port project.

Lorries carrying raw materials to the Sheikh Khalifa Port construction site have become a frequent sight in Al Samha.
Lorries carrying raw materials to the Sheikh Khalifa Port construction site have become a frequent sight in Al Samha.

Rush hour on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai road is a well-known headache. From next month, it is set to get worse.

A major construction project announced by the Department of Transport on Tuesday will shut portions of the E11 motorway near the Al Samha Adnoc station, disrupting traffic on a road typically used by around 4,500 cars an hour. Work is expected to begin before the new year.

Abduljaliel Kseibi expressed dismay at the news. "It takes me an hour and 30 minutes driving. The traffic is really bad so I always try to leave very early from my house to avoid it so I will not be late for work," said the 28-year-old raw material buyer at Emirates Steel Industries in Musaffah. "The construction is just going to make life harder, it is bad."

The motorway is being constructed to increase the number of lanes in each direction from four to six along a 4.5-kilometre stretch.

The Department of Transport says it will create detours and alternate routes, thought no information on these has been announced.

In addition to the widening, a new junction, the Sheikh Khalifa interchange, will be built at Al Samha.

Construction at the new Sheikh Khalifa port, 50km or so northwest of Abu Dhabi island, is creating traffic problems on the tiny streets of the towns along the Abu Dhabi-Dubai road.

Massive lorries carrying raw materials to the construction site rumble through previously quiet neighbourhoods in Al Samha, Al Rahba and Al Taweela.

At 3pm on Thursday, school buses from the Al Samha girls' school jockeyed for position with lorries and cars to enter the single-lane roundabout in Al Samha East.

The town is bisected by the highway. Pupils have to cross a two-lane bridge to get from school to their homes at Al Sahma West. Lorries use this bridge, too.

Around 500 lorries a day travel from the Khalifa Ports Company's staging ground in Al Samha East to the construction site on the other side of the Abu Dhabi-Dubai road.

As construction on the port ramps up in the coming months, that number is likely to increase.

The narrow roads and bridge were not designed for this kind of traffic. A sign indicates that the maximum load the bridge can bear is 60 tonnes. A fully loaded lorry can easily weigh 20 to 40 tonnes.

The new Sheikh Khalifa interchange will be 10 lanes wide. Another small bridge, similar to the one already connecting Al Samha, will be built to the nearby town of Ghanada.

According to Faisal Ahmed al Suwaidi, the general director of main roads at the Department of Transport, the Dh592m construction project was the result of "major developments" in the emirate. Construction is expected to take two years, he said.

Ali Mohammed Ali, 35, a public relations officer at Dubai Sport City, expressed resignation at the news.

"[My commute] takes me an hour and 30 minutes to two hours sometimes," he said. "I always wake up very early and I'm having back pains from all the driving I do. I hope all they're doing will help in the end."

smclain@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Samar al Huneidi