Double-decked Sheikh Zayed Road in the planning?

Project will involve a 35-kilometre elevated section of highway running from Dubai Creek to Jebel Ali Port

Double-decker roads have until now mainly featured in movies depicting the future, for at least they have not been imagined to appear in the UAE very soon.

A surprising media report last week suggested otherwise.

“The RTA (Road and Transport Authority) is already exploring ways to tackle congestion. The most ambitious scheme so far is the double-decking of Sheikh Zayed Road. If it goes ahead, the project will involve building a 35-kilometre elevated section of highway running from Dubai Creek to Jebel Ali Port,” was written in the Middle East Economic Digest (MEED) report.

The assumption could not be confirmed by the RTA at the moment, and it is not clear on which source the report is based.

However, it cannot hurt to let us get carried away for a moment.

Traffic volumes have surged in the emirate, ever more so since the economy was declared ‘healthy’ and confidently pushing forward on many fronts. With the victory on the Expo 2020 bid, little can divert the optimism that Dubai is moving forward.

On the ground this means a swelling population and tourist influx. And this inevitably leads to more traffic on the road. With Sheikh Zayed being the barometer of traffic growth, it has been concluded by many that traffic congestion is back, referring to the once similar situation before the economic crisis.

Indeed, traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road is frequently seen moving slowly or not moving at all during peak hours. While traffic jams fill the road in the direction of Abu Dhabi in the early peak hours, in the evening the traffic is headed in the opposite direction.

The RTA has not stood idle to the alarming predictions of traffic growth. Significant road improvements have been carried out to the roads running parallel to Sheikh Zayed Road, in an attempt to ease traffic congestion on the spine of the emirate. More Salik toll gates were another such measure, with the displeasure of commuting to Dubai and the neighbouring emirate Sharjah.

Although these measures have not gone in vain and swells of motorists have indeed resorted to the less travelled roads such as Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road, Al Khail Road and Emirates Road, Sheikh Zayed Road remains the main link through the emirate, and traffic volumes continue to swell.

It would, therefore, not be unimaginable that plans for the second tier are in the pipeline. Besides, Dubai would not be the first to resort to extreme measures such as double-decking roads. In downtown Chicago, several double-decker and even triple-decker roads can be found. In November last year plans of such nature were announced in Delhi. This being said, the construction does not seem so futuristic at all.

As suggested by MEED, a project of such calibre would not come without a price tag, the report speaking of billions of dirhams. “..the emirate will have to explore private funding options,” it argues.

The public-partnership is not strange to the RTA, with projects such as Union Oasis recently opened for private tenders. A similar scheme would possibly suit the construction of a double-decker road.

Emirates 24|7 is waiting for a response from the Public Traffic Authority (PTA) of RTA to confirm the report. Watch this space for more.

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