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Al Salam Street tunnel set to open six months ahead of schedule

The tunnel can accommodate 6,000 vehicles per hour. (JOSEPH J CAPELLAN)

By Abdel Hai Mohamad

The first tunnel at Al Salam Street will open today near Khalifa Park, Abu Dhabi Municipality said.

The inauguration comes six months ahead of schedule and is part of continuing efforts to gradually open surface and bypass roads in the run-up to the full completion of the project.

The 850-metres long tunnel has four lanes and an estimated capacity to accommodate 6,000 vehicles per hour in each direction.

Its opening will mark the start of a new phase of construction near Khalifa Park.

Traffic will be diverted to the tunnel and the municipality is working with the Traffic Department of the General Directorate of Abu Dhabi Police to ensure smooth flow of traffic.

Construction work will continue in stages until the scheme's final completion in the third quarter of 2010.

"The cost to build the tunnel was Dh438m and the total cost of contracts for the project is Dh5 billion," said Abdulla Al Shamsi, Acting Executive Director of the Municipal Infrastructure and Assets Sector.

But he said the overall cost could decline slightly because of the fall in the price of building materials.

"The municipality uses the Fidic system, which does not disadvantage either the municipality or contractors, and takes into account the market price of raw materials.

"Prices are now stable and undoubtedly this will have an impact on the project's total cost. We expect the cost to fall slightly but the rate of reduction cannot be determined at the moment.

Al Salam Street is the Middle East's biggest roads project. About 5,000 people are working day and night to complete it. In addition, it is Abu Dhabi's most vital project. It extends more than three kilometres and will reduce the problem of traffic congestion and cuts the time to enter or depart from the city from 50 minutes to less than 10 minutes as there will be no traffic signals.

He said contractors will maintain the project for four years and will be responsible for lighting, landscaping, decoration and other services. The project is part of the municipality's strategic aim to meet the requirements of a developing city and respond to the needs of the growing population.

In addition, the municipality's efforts are directed towards securing an advanced network of infrastructure and transport facilities to achieve the highest level of road system efficiency.

The municipality is receiving help from the Urban Planning Council, Department of Transport and Abu Dhabi Police.


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