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Colombo- Katunayake Expressway: 80 percent work complete

About 80 percent of the construction work of the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway has been complete. It will be vested with the people in August.

Ports and Highways Deputy Minister Nirmala Kothalawela told the Daily News that the rest of the work was progressing expeditiously.

"This would create a high mobility link between Colombo and the Bandaranaike International Airport enabling motorists to travel to the airport in 20 minutes," Kothalawela said.

The length of the expressway would be around 25.8 kilometres starting from the New Kelani Bridge and ending at the Airport Access Road at Katunayake. The total estimated cost of the project is US $ 294 million funded by Exim Bank of China due to intervention and negotiations President Mahinda Rajapaksa had with the bank. The Sri Lankan government has spent US $ 50 million for the project.

The deputy minister said that the development of the country's road network is instrumental in accelerating development programmes.

"The commencement of the construction of this long awaited project will provide a number of benefits to the people. Among them are promoting outward migration of public from the Colombo area, improving user benefits to the rapidly expanding transport traffic and improving mobility needs of the industrial development areas in the vicinity and the associated container traffic," he said.

The Expressway, with four lane carriageways, will include four interchanges at the new Kelani Bridge, Peliyagoda, Ja-Ela and Katunayake.

He said the contract was awarded to China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC)by the government and the agreement was signed on 17.08.2008. The project loan agreements were signed on 06.08.2009 and the project commenced on 18.08.2009.

The Expressway will have 42 bridges and 88 culverts to ensure the smooth flow of traffic. The site clearing , construction of service roads and laying of bottom sand mat have been completed. In addition to this, concrete square pile driving for bridge approaches, driving of pre-fabricated vertical drains, construction of sand compaction piles and crushed stone piles as soft ground treatment works have also been completed.

Construction of all bridges including a 480 metre long viaduct at Hunupitiya and a 800 metre viaduct at Katunayake are in progress. Bridge construction progress is about 85 percent while 97 percent progress has been made in box culvert construction.

About 96 percent of the embankment slopes, drainage works along the road trace and over laying of road pavement are in progress.

"Land acquisition and resettlement due to the project were also closely monitored and Rs. 2.5 billion paid in compensation for the acquired land to 700 families. This is the only highway being built using sea sand which is used to strengthen weak soil," he said.

The entire project has received Central Environmental Authority approval. It is being constructed giving priority for environmental concerns and paying great emphasis to landscaping. The canals in the area are also being widened.

He said that the length of the expressway would be around 25.8 Kilometres, starting from the New Kelani Bridge and ending at the Airport Access Road at Katunayake.

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