Commuters in the federal capital can heave a sigh of relief after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s announcement on Tuesday of a Rs5 billion special assistance package for rehabilitation of different roads in the city. The premier was inaugurating the multi-billion Islamabad Highway widening project.
An approximately 25-kilometre long signal-free corridor on the Islamabad Highway from Zero Point to Rawat will be developed at an estimated cost of Rs21.8 billion.
Read: Expressway’s makeover: PM inaugurates project today
Under the project, additional lanes will be added to the existing highway along with service roads, besides construction of six partial and full interchanges — one each at the intersections of Sector I-8, Sohan, Khanna, Airport/Koral, and GT Road — and four vehicular underpasses and overpasses.
While the existing Faizabad interchange will be completely rehabilitated and additional loops and ramps will be added to it.
Once completed, there will be four lanes on each side of the highway between Zero Point to Faizabad and Airport Chowk to Rawat, while five lanes on each side of the highway between Faizabad to Airport Chowk.
The design speed for light transport vehicles on the upgraded highway will be 100 kilometers per hour.
The project has been divided in two phases: the 12.5-kilometer phase-I includes up-gradation of the highway from Zero Point to Airport Chowk at a cost of Rs8.6 billion and it will be completed within six months while the 12.5-kilometre phase-II includes up-gradation of the highway from Airport Chowk to Rawat and it will cost Rs13.16 billion. A timeframe for phase-II is not yet available.
Construction of a number of pedestrian bridges, walkways, bus bays, bus shelters and installation of efficient LED lighting system is also part of the project.
Read: Islamabad Highway expansion: First phase of work to begin in first week of July
The firm Maksons Construction has already been contracted out development of the first phase while tenders for the remaining work of first phase will be opened on July 7.
PM speaks about Islamabad
Addressing the inaugural ceremony, the premier emphasised that the city managers carryout this project on international standards and within the prescribed timeframe.
He deplored the dilapidated conditions of the capital’s roads and announced a Rs5 billion package for their up-gradation saying “Islamabad is the capital city and should be developed on international standards.” Sharif said he would himself inspect the rehabilitation work of the road network in Islamabad.
The prime minister also announced plans for linking Rawat with the motorway to provide a bypass and an alternate route to vehicles intending to enter the motorway avoiding the city rush. He also announced a similar bypass at Bhara Khau area for convenience of tourists travelling to Murree and beyond.
Sharif termed the Islamabad Highway project as another significant addition to the mega development projects of the capital saying Islamabad would experience a remarkable improvement in infrastructure in the next two to three years.
Read: Neelum-jhelum project: 72% of work completed
Sharif also asked the chairman of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to initiate an inquiry against officials involved in the delay of execution of the Kashmir Highway project and financial irregularities in the project.
The ceremony was held at Shakarparian Parade Ground and attended by federal ministers, MPs, federal secretaries, and officers of CDA and other departments.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2015.