High road to the Highways

There had been a revolutionary development in the urban and rural road network system of the country during the last nine years after President Mahinda Rajapaksa assumed duties. The country became the hub of transport in South Asia as it had developed three expressways,

Southern, Katunayake and Outer Circular Highway. Today a massive road development projects have been launched by the Highways, Ports and Shipping Ministry to realize the promises made in the Mahinda Chintana Manifesto paving the way for Sri Lanka to emerge as the Wonder of Asia. Highways, Ports and Shipping Minister Nirmala Kotelawala, his Secretary Ranjit Premasiri and Ministry staff have been working tirelessly to bring about a safe, effective and qualitative road network that suits the needs of the country.

Highways and road development is a vital area in the Mahinda Chintana Policy framework. There can be no development in any country without an efficient highways and road network. For mobility in villages or towns it is essential that a proper road network exists. Therefore, President Mahinda Rajapaksa took necessary steps to uplift the highways and road sector investing generously in the field.

The development goals for an accelerated economic growth and to raise living standards of the people expected through the programmes initiated nine years ago, in Sri Lanka following the "Mahinda Chinthana" policies and strategies, had been well synchronized and in coherent with the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) of the United Nations. Sri Lanka is one of the few countries that achieved MDG goals thus far and it was able to achieve the per capita income up to US $ 3,280 in 2013.

To support the acceleration of economic growth, reduce structural poverty and generate productive employment opportunities at a rapid rate, as a means of ensuring social justice is one of the salient features in the "Mahinda Chinthana Idiridekma" policy guidelines.

Therefore, the Ministry of Highways, Ports and Shipping as a leading government organization in the field of infrastructure development, has a bounden duty to formulate its plans and strategies to achieve this goal by constructing new roads and rehabilitating the existing road infrastructure. Hence the actions taken by the Ministry to improve the country's road network including the Provincial and Rural roads, following the 'Mahinda Chinthana' policies and strategies, have contributed to a greater extent in paving the way forward for a better future for the people of Sri Lanka.

The establishment of peace in 2009 had exploited an enormous economic potential in the Eastern and Northern provinces.

Therefore special emphasis had been given to rapidly improve the road network in the Eastern and Northern provinces under the 'Negenahira Nawodaya' and 'Uthuru Wasanthaya' programmes respectively. This has helped to unleash the untapped economic potential in those regions. Roads, are considered as the backbone of the transport sector of the country. National Highways carry more than 80% of traffic in Sri Lanka.

Therefore Roads need to be better constructed and properly maintained. Since there is limited funding coming to this sector through the private investments, the Government needs to finance this sector through local and foreign sources. It is also imperative that the road sector organizations should be properly managed, coordinated, developed and maintained at optimal costs. These organizations operate programs to facilitate better and effective transport systems, which meets the aspirations of the public.

The Ministry is responsible for the formulation of national policies, implementation of strategies and monitoring the performance of the road sector programs, improving and maintaining the national road network in order to achieve the socio-economic development, ensure high mobility, improve better connectivity and accessibility for the people of Sri Lanka.

Road Development Authority (RDA) is playing a key role in implementing road projects and maintaining of Highways and Bridges.

Sri Lanka's road network comprises of National Highways (A & B class roads & Expressways), provincial roads (C & D class roads), unclassified local authority roads and other roads maintained by several government departments and state sector estate agencies. As per the current data available up to September 2014, the total length of the National Highways maintained by the RDA is approximately 12,329 km.

Sri Lanka, with a total area of 65,610 km2, and about 20.4 million (Source : Central Bank Annual Report - 2013) population, is having a road density of about 1.6 km/km2, which is much higher than that of other countries in the South Asian Region. Although the road network is extensive, most of the national and provincial roads were built more than 50 years ago to cater to the traffic volume and vehicle types and speeds that existed at that time.

Even though the Ministry has developed many thousands of kilometers of roads during the past few years, still there is a need to make great emphasis to maintain these roads. During the last two decades, traffic volume and use of heavy vehicles has increased rapidly. Also, high speed motor vehicles have emerged due to the technological advancements in the past few decades and have created a necessity for roads with good geometrics for safe and fast mobility.

The present Government has addressed these concerns and provided requisite resources to rapidly upgrade the country's road network. These improvements to the network will provide optimally designed, best connected economically maintainable road network for the country. As the Government expects the economy to grow by 8% to 10% within the next few years, keeping the road network in proper condition is vital to achieve this development target.

In spite of the heavy investment on uplifting the living standards of the people in the country, especially in the Northern Province and Eastern Province, the government has allocated a substantial amount of Rs. 144.99 billion in the Ministry budget in 2014 for this endeavor.

Expressways Development

The Government has already commissioned three expressways of Southern,Katunayake-Colombo and first section of the outer Circular Highway(OCH) while the construction work of the Northern expressway will be commenced this year. Main objective of the Southern expressway project is to assist the development of the economy of Southern Province by encouraging growth in industries, tourism, fisheries and agriculture. The Expressway section from Kottawa to Pinnaduwa and Galle Port access road were opened for general public November 27, 2011. The travel time from Kottawa to Galle reduced to approximately one hour. Construction work of Pinnaduwa to Matara expressway section

commenced in April 2011 under China EXIM Bank funds and completed in March 2014. Total length of this section is 31 km. There are 03 interchanges (Imaduwa, Kokmaduwa and Godagama) and 09 bridges in this section and it has been constructed at a cost of Rs.3300 million. Extension of Southern Expressway from Matara to Hambanthota is identified as one of the key activity in the development of the road network. The total length of this expressway section is 96 km .

Construction work of Colombo - Katunayake expressway commenced in August 2009 and opened for general public October 27, 2013. The main objective of this project is to make high mobility link from Colombo city to Katunayake Air Port. Total length of this expressway is 25.8 km. It has been designed for speeds of 80km/h and 100 km/h. This expressway has been constructed as six lanes section from New Kelani Bridge to Peliyagoda interchange and four lanes section from Paliyagoda to Katunayake. The travel time from Peliyagoda to Katunayake has reduced up to 20 minutes.

Outer Circular Highway

The Outer Circular Highway (OCH) to the city of Colombo is a new expressway connecting Southern Expressway and Colombo - Katunayake Expressway. Also it connects the other National Highways (A1, A3, A4) radiating from the city of Colombo. Total length of this 6 lane expressway is 29.1 km. It has been designed for speeds of 80km/h and 100 km/h. Construction works of OCH is divided into three phases as given below. Construction of 11km long 4 lane expressway section from Kottawa to Kaduwela and construction of Kottawa Interchange are the main tasks of the phase I. Construction works commenced in December 2009 and completed in March 2014. There are 03 interchanges (Kottawa, Athurugiriya and Kothalawala), 08 overpasses, 01 underpass and 54 culverts in this road section. Kottawa - Kaduwela Expressway section was opened by President Mahinda Rajapakse on March 8th 2014. Construction of 8.9 km long 4 lane expressway section from Kaduwela to Kadawatha and construction of interchanges are the main tasks of this phase II of this expressway. There are 02 Interchanges, 07 bridges and 05 overpasses in this section. Construction works commenced in January 2011 and will be completed in January 2015. Necessary measures have been taken to relocate the displaced people having established two resettlement sites. As at the end of September 2014 all soft ground treatment works and pile foundation of structures have been completed. Also it has completed 82% of sub structure works, 52% of super structure works and 83% of culverts. Overall physical progress for the end of September 2014 is 78.5%.

Northern Expressway is one of the expressways, identified for implementation in the National Road Master Plan for 2007-2017. The Northern Expressway forms a part of the nation's expressway network and will eventually join Colombo and Jaffna at the Northern tip of the country. Framework agreement of this project was signed in May 28, 2013. The feasibility study is being done. This expressway consists of four stages as follows and it consists with 15 interchanges. They are Stage I -Enderamulla to Meerigama (53 km), Stage II - Meerigama to Kurunegala (38 km) , Stage III - Kurunegala - Kandy (expressway link to Kandy - 51 km) and Stage IV - Kurunegala - Dambulla (60 km) .Surveying, geotechnical investigation, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and public awareness of stage I & III of the project are completed.

The objective of the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) for Expressways is to provide better service for the Expressway users by providing useful and timely driver information system. This modern electronic message system is a proven internationally accepted method which use worldwide. This system will be installed with the financial assistance from JICA as a Grant Project. JICA has agreed to provide Japanese Yen 940 Million. The scope of the work involves installation of 21 Variable Message Sign (VMS) boards, 20 Traffic counters and 11 rain gauges in Southern Expressway and Outer Circular Expressway. This project will be completed in February 2015.

The objective of the Integrated Road Investment Programme (iROAD) is to improve the accessibility of road network in rural areas of Sri Lanka. An inclusive and sustainable road network is one of the key prerequisites for long-term development in rural area. The investment program will upgrade and maintain about 2,200 km of rural access roads, rehabilitate and maintain about 400 km of national road corridors to good condition and improve the capacity of road agencies. Asian Development Bank (ADB) has agreed to provide financial assistance of US$ 800 million and Government of Sri Lanka will provide Rs. 106 million.

Under the National Highways Network development, the RDA maintains 12,329 km of national highways and 3,883 bridges. The Provincial Directors, Chief Engineers and Executive Engineers of RDA are carrying out routine, periodic and urgent improvement works under the maintenance programme. Under this programme wide range of maintenance activities such as sand sealing, pot hole patching etc. are being attended island wide. About 515.8 km of roads have been sand sealed from January to September 30, 2014 through ICTAD registered contractors.

Construction of the Highway Secretariat at Denzil Kobbekaduwa Mawatha, comprising 8 floors, was commenced in August 2010 and construction works are ongoing. RDA decided to add two more floors to the building under the stage III. Accordingly the Highway Secretariat Building will have 10 floors with an auditorium. Overall physical progress of construction work is 98.5%.

Improvements from Nugegoda to Homagama (A04) road section was completed at a cost of Rs.989 million in February 2013.

The ADB has agreed to provide additional funds for the proposed Southern Expressway link roads under supplementary loan to the Loan No. 2767. This project commenced in February 2012 and will be completed in January 2015. Total length of road sections is 58.4 km.

Following roads have been selected to rehabilitate under this supplementary Loan.

Land acquisition is in progress under Baseline Road improvement project - Phase III. Under the access Roads and National Roads Development for Special Development Projects , construction of foot walks in Dambulla town improvement project under Greater Dambulla Development Plan is in the procurement stage while design of the Dambulla temple area development project was completed. Pelawatte Junction Improvement with Signalization is in progress.

Rehabilitated Padeniya - Anuradhapura National Highway (A28) was opened for the general public in April 8 2013 by the President. Government of Korea provided loan through Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) for this project. Construction works of Kanthale - Trincomalee road section was completed. Rehabilitation of Rathmalana to Nalluruwa junction section of Colombo - Galle Road (A002) and Peliyagoda to Ja-Ela section of Colombo -Puttalam Road (A003) were commenced on July 7 2013. Relocation of utilities, construction of culverts, drains and kerbs and laying of water pipe lines are in progress. Overall physical progress of construction work was 77.3% as at the end of September 2014. In Hambanthota District, 302 km of roads have been awarded for rehabilitation, widening and improvement.

Improvement of National Road network in Northern Province (NRRP) includes rehabilitation of 512 km roads and reconstruction of bridges and culverts in Northern Province with the financial assistance of the EXIM Bank of China. Under this project, six civil works contracts were completed. Among these completed projects, Kandy - Jaffna (A9) highways was opened for general public on June 15 2013. Rehabilitation of 170 km of roads in North Central Province and Northern Province were carried out under this project with the financial assistance of Asian Development Bank. Contracts were awarded in June 2011 and construction works of these projects were completed in 2013.

Installation of traffic light system at Piliyandala and Kaduwela junctions and improvement to Osu Uyana (Parliament end) junction is completed. Junction improvement with signal at Miriswatta junction, Ukwatta junction and Nawala junction is also completed and junction under the Peliyandala bypass is in construction with signalization. Construction of pedestrian overpass over Ekala Kotadeniyawa Road in front of Horagasmulla School at Minuwangoda and Improvements to Pannala Roundabout are also in progress.

Junction improvement and signalization of Walikada junction and HSBC junction of Kollupitiya - Si Jayewardhanepura road is in progress. Construction of HSBC road (Connectivity road from Kolluitiya - Sri Jeyewardhenapura road to Welikada -Kohilawatte road is in progress. Signalization of Palawatta junction is in progress.

The China Development Bank (CDB) provided US $ 152.8 million for the rehabilitation of roads identified under Rehabilitation & Improvement of Priority Roads Projects (PRP- I).

Rehabilitation of 179 km of roads, construction of a new flyover and bridges are included in this project.

The China Development Bank provided US $ 500 million loan amount for Rehabilitation & Improvement of Priority Roads Projects (PRP- II) .. 24 civil works contracts were awarded for the improvement and rehabilitation of 476.5 km of national highways and 115 km of Provincial roads. Construction of two new flyovers and the reconstruction and widening of bridges on two roads also included in the programme .

Twenty two contracts were awarded as at the end of September 2014 under the Government Guaranteed Local Banks Funded Road Rehabilitation Project .This project and all these projects are funded by the local banks . The Government received US$ 60 million from the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) to rehabilitate and improve six road sections of 79 km of total length. Estimated cost for the project is Rs. 6,625 Million.

Road Network Development Project (OFID) includes rehabilitation and improvement of approximately 64 km of national highways and the reconstruction of Bridge No.3/2 on Polgahawela - Kegalle road. Following four contracts have been awarded for immediate implementation and balance will be implemented.

The Government received US$ 50 million from the OFID fund to develop national highways in Colombo District. Part of this loan will be utilized for payments of widening of Nawala Bridge on Narahenpita-Nawala-Nugegoda Road. Overall physical progress is 31.8% as at the end of September 30,2014.

Chinese Development Bank has provided a further US $ 300 Million for Priority Road Project Extension (PRP III). Total road length of 199.2 km has been selected to develop under this project. 13 contracts are to be funded stage I of PRP III. 12 contracts have already been awarded and the balance has to be awarded.

Total road length of 146.6 km has been selected to rehabilitate under Rehabilitation of Peradeniya - Badulla - Chenkaladi ( A 5) Highway Project. Project will be commenced on February 2015. Estimated cost of the project is Rs.18,000 Million.

Scope of the Expressway Connectivity Investment Plan Project (ADB) is to do Feasibility study and Preliminary Engineering Design of Elevated Highways for selected three alternatives starting the end of Southern Highway (Kottawa interchange) up to New Kalani Bridge interchange of Colombo Katunayake Expressway. Estimated cost for the project is US $ 802,400 with Rs 88,766,392. Project duration is 8 months. Expected outputs of the project are to reduce traffic congestion of Metro Colombo area, to reduce travel time from Kottawa to Colombo and Colombo to other region of the country.

Under the Conflict Affected Region Emergency Project, two road projects were implemented with the financial assistance of Asian Development Bank. Construction works of Paranthan to Poonaryn road (25.7km) was 28 completed.

Mankulam to Vellankulam Road (40 km) works is ongoing and overall physical rogress is 99.5% up to 30th September 2014.

172.8 of roads were rehabilitated in three districts in parallel to the Deyata Kirula National Development Programme 2014. Under this project, 39.56 km of roads in Puttalam district, 107.1 km of roads in Kurunegala district and 26.1 km of roads in Kegalle district were implemented.

Integral part

As an integral part of the Road Network most bridges are being reconstructed or rehabilitated with enhanced safety features parallel to road development where 100 - 150 bridges are to be reconstructed annually (permanent bridges are being constructed for existing ferries as well as weak an narrow bridges) flyovers also have to be constructed in location with intersections with the easing traffic congestion, reducing delays minimizing accidents, lowering the operational cost of vehicle and finally ensuring the safe and efficient transportation.

Under the Reconstruction of Damaged /Weak Bridges on National Highways , 163 bridges were identified for strengthening. Rehabilitation works of 38 bridges were completed during the year and 45 bridges were in progress. Reconstruction of Five Bridges project in Eastern Province was commenced in April 2011 and opened for general public on September 1, 2013.

Objective of the Construction of Manmune Bridge across Batticaloa Lagoon is to provide easy access to rural communities in the west part of Batticaloa district for their social and economic needs such as health, education, administration and transport their agricultural products to markets.

Under this project, 210 m long concrete bridge and 2 causeways on the west on length 195m and on the east of length 292.8 m have been constructed. Construction works of Manmune Bridge was started in June 2012 and completed in April 2014.

Construction of low cost bridges in rural areas and quick construction of temporary bridges in RDA roads under emergency situation such as flood damages are the main responsibilities of Rural Bridge Construction Division. During the year 2014, 16 bridges have been constructed. Construction works of 52 bridges are ongoing and 18 bridges were commenced.

Construction works of Veyangoda flyover was completed with the financial assistance of Spanish Bank and opened for general public on January 16, 2014.After constructing this Flyover, traffic congestion has reduced in Veyangoda Town.

Estimated cost of Regional Bridge Project (Phase II) is 45 million and it was funded by HSBC Bank in UK. Construction works of twenty bridges were commenced during this year. Among these projects five Bridges are nearly completion . Construction works at Polduwa Bridge on Kollupitiya sri jayawardanapura road have been completed and open for the traffic on 5th September 2014. The Government received euro 22 million from the French Government to reconstruct 46 bridges. Construction works of 12 bridges were completed and 17 of bridges are ongoing.

The scope of the Major bridges construction project of the National Road Network project is to improve the part of the high-priority national road infrastructure, such as construction and replacement of the bridges on the National Highways. Initially 37 bridges have been selected. Estimated cost for the project is Japanese Yen 15,668.00 Million. Construction works started in 2014.