o6th August 2010, www.lankabusinessonline.com
The Sri Lankan government said it has got Asian Development Bank funding to start work on an expressway between Colombo and Kandy in the central hills that will cut travel time to less than an hour.
Transport ministry secretary Wasantha Karannagoda said the ADB had promised 500 million dollars over the next three years for the first phase of the project.
"Land acquisition studies and detailed designs have been done and we hope to start the civil works from next year," he told a news conference.
"The expressway will reduce travel time between Colombo and Kandy to around 45-50 minutes with vehicle speeds of 100-110 kilometres an hour. It will be a four-lane highway with provision to expand to six lanes.
"This will be a big relief to commuters, enabling them to save time and fuel, and reduce vehicle maintenance costs."
Travel between Colombo and Kandy now takes about three hours and there is congestion on the existing road.
The planned expressway will be an elevated highway, built on viaducts or concrete pillars in order to reduce land acquisition and avoid difficulties caused by the danger of floods, Karannagoda said.
The first phase from Kadawata, north of Colombo, to Ambepussa will take about three and a half years. The second phase would extend the road to Katugastota, near Kandy.
"If we can get funds for the second phase we can work on that at the same time so the total construction period would be about four years," Karannagoda said.
The government had decided to do the project after a previous proposal to give it to a Malaysian company was abandoned, he said.
This was because the foreign investor's feasibility studies indicated the anticipated traffic was not enough to ensure profits within their time frame, he said.
Government spokesman media minister Kehaliya Rambukkwelle said the government might make the first stretch of expressway a toll road.
Colombo - Kandy Expressway by Road Development Authority (RDA)