Construction of the Rs. 28 billion Port Access Elevated Highway, Sri Lanka’s first, begins today with the support of a USD 300 million (about Rs. 54.2 billion) loan facility by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).Highways and Road Development and Petroleum Resources Minister Kabir Hashim told a news conference at his ministry yesterday that the travel time between Ingurukade junction and Fort, which takes about 45 minutes now, would be reduced to 5 minutes once the project completes. The 5.3 km highway on pillars connects to the New Kelani Bridge (NKB) from Ingurukade junction, near the Kelanitissa Power Station, and extends onwards to the Colombo Port City. It will link to Galle Face by a tunnel road thereby avoiding harm to the natural beauty of the Galle Face Green.
The project is to be completed in three years. The main contractor of the project is China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation. A consultacy firm joinly set up by the US, the UK and Sri Lanka will provide consultacy.The project will help alleviate traffic congestion in Colombo’s densely populated areas, improve connectivity between the country’s expressway network and Colombo’s international port, provide better logistics services for freight operations, and facilitate regional trade.
In addition, a 17-storied Maritime Facilitation Centre is to be constructed outside the port boundary to substitute for those buildings demolished to make way for the elevated highway. The ADB’s US$ 300 million loan will cover both the elevated highway as well as the cost of these ancillary projects.The repayment period of the ADB loan is 21 years including a grace period.The minister said a new toll system using up-to-date technology was also being discussed now and an integrated traffic light system has also been proposed to reduce traffic congestion in the metro highway network