The government is considering changing the design of the Ring Road’s Southern Loop, pushing it closer to the River Ravi in the city’s southwest. The proposed changes affect the fourth section of the Southern Loop and would introduce a fifth section not included in the original design.
Meanwhile, construction of the first three sections, or packages, has been approved by the provincial government. These will extend the Ring Road from Kamahan to Maraka on Multan Road. Bid documents for these packages have already been prepared.
The National Engineering Services of Pakistan (Nespak) is preparing a more detailed design for the new route and this will be formally presented to the chief minister by the Lahore Ring Road Authority (LRRA) in a meeting which has not yet been scheduled.
The proposed design changes were shown to the chief minister and prime minister at a meeting on June 22 in the form of lines drawn on satellite images and cost estimates. If approved, the changes will add around 14 kilometres, and many billions of rupees in construction costs, to the original Southern Loop design.
The idea behind the realignment of the Southern Loop closer to the River Ravi was to build economic zones along the route in order to create revenue-generating opportunities for the LRRA, according to officials. The Transport Department, which was preparing to auction 88 sites for D-class parking stands, has postponed the bidding at 66 sites in view of the proposed changes to the Ring Road route.
The 40-km Northern Loop of the Ring Road, running clockwise from Ghulshan-i-Ravi to Kamahan, was finished last year. According to the current design, the Southern Loop is to run for 49 kilometres from Kamahan to Thokar Niaz Beg, from where traffic could use the Motorway (M2) to travel to Babu Sabu. From there, a two-kilometre section would be built till Gulshan-i-Ravi to complete the circle. The total construction cost for the Southern Loop was estimated at around Rs70 billion.
Under the proposed changes, the fourth section of the Southern Loop would be pushed further towards the Ravi. Seven kilometres would be added to the initial design so that this package would be 25km long. The added stretch would run parallel to the M2, which would then not be needed to complete the ring. A new fifth package of 8km would then be added, 6km of it running alongside Package 1 of the Northern Loop/Bund Road. The Southern Loop would join the Northern Loop at Niazi Interchange. With the additions, the project would cost an estimated Rs93 billion to build.
A Punjab government official said that additions could result in the overall cost of the Southern Loop, which is to be constructed in partnership with private entities, spiralling from around Rs200 billion to Rs260 billion. If approved, the changes would also delay the bidding of the construction contract for five or six months so new concession agreements could be drawn up for packages 4 and 5.
LRRA Chairman Rashid Mehmood Langrial said that no decision had yet been made on the proposed design changes. He said that the Steering Committee for Public-Private Partnerships had approved construction of sections one to three of the Southern Loop.
Package 1 of the Southern Loop would consist of 9.35km of road connecting the Ring Road to Ferozepur Road, with a construction cost of Rs18.65 billion. Package 2 from Ferozepur Road (Gajju Mata) to Adda Plot would be 13km long and cost Rs31.94 billion to build. Package 3, from Adda Plot to Maraka, would be 8km long and cost Rs13.60 billion.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2013.