Sharjah roads to get a substantial makeover

New bridges have been planned to reduce traffic congestion. (CHANDRA BALLAN)

The Government of Sharjah has allocated Dh850 million towards improving entry and exit roads, and intersections along the entire length of Emirates Road within its borders.

This was revealed by Salah Butti Obaid bin Butti, Director-General of the Sharjah Planning and Survey Department and member of the emirate's Executive Council, during a meeting of the Sharjah Consultative Council.

He said the department had assessed traffic levels on Emirates Road and drawn up short and long-term plans.

The long-term plan involves projects with a total cost of Dh850m including expanding existing bridges such as the Fifth Industrial Bridge from three to five lanes. In addition, a number of bridges will be constructed at the entries and exists to the industrial areas.

As part of the short-term plan, the department has completed the expansion of the road linking Al Nahda area with Emirates Road to five lanes, starting from Al Nahda Bridge exit. This is in addition to the provision of an extra two lanes alongside the bridge.

The second phase of the project covers the improvement of routes from the highway into the city of Sharjah near the Dubai border. The route towards the industrial areas will be expanded to two lanes and traffic will be directed towards Industrial Areas 15 and 17 and to Al Maleiha Road. This will help in reducing traffic congestion on the Fifth Industrial Bridge and the roundabout beneath it. Work on the second phase has started and is scheduled for completion this year.

When Council member Dr Obaid Al Tunaiji spoke of the need for pedestrian crossings on a number of routes, including Emirates Road, bin Butti informed that three subways would be built under Emirates Road.

"Twenty bridges, traffic lights and hump-style pedestrian crossings will be constructed on roads such as King Faisal Street, Al Wahda Street and Humaid bin Saqr Street. We have finished constructing a pedestrian crossing bridge on Al Nahda Street at the Sahara Centre."

Replying to the query posed by another member, Khalifa Mohammed Khalifa Bu Ghanim, on steps to ease traffic congestion at Al Khalidaya Bridge and the surrounding area, Bin Butti said this bridge, which formed part of Sharjah's Ring Road, had been assessed and a plan was being prepared.

"The Ring Road, starting from Ajman towards Al Owais intersection, has been expanded to three lanes and the smooth running of the intersection has improved. The section from Al Owais intersection towards Al Khaleej Al Arabi will be widened to three lanes. The department is studying eight suggestions for the section from Al Oroba Street to the 2.5km Al Khalidiya Bridges," said bin Butti.

One of the suggestions involves expanding the road to five lanes and constructing a bridge towards King Abdul Aziz Street. Another involves building a 5km bridge linking Al Khalidiya Bridge with Al Nahda Bridge on Al Ittihad Road.

A quick solution could involve expanding Al Oroba Road by removing the car parking on both sides, he said, adding that this section was still being studied.

A solution to congestion caused by trucks on Emirates Road and routes linking the city of Sharjah to the Central Zone, including Al Dhaid and Siji, is being prepared in co-operation with the Ministry of Public Works and local departments.

Bin Butti said: "We have finished expanding the Airport Road towards Al Dhaid to five lanes until the seventh intersection. We are co-ordinating with the ministry to expand the remaining part of the road. The department is considering the construction of a special road for trucks from Al Dhaid towards Al Siji and this would transfer traffic directly to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

"The construction of another road linking Sharjah to Al Siji, Maleiha, Al Filli and Al Madam has been approved by the Ministry of Interior. Stations and parking lots for 150 trucks will be constructed in both directions."

Restrictions on the number of times trucks can use roads, and a complete ban on some roads, had been specified to reduce congestion.

Plans to create new industrial, commercial and residential areas and redevelop existing areas in different parts of the emirate have been drawn up by the Government of Sharjah under its master plan. The department has allocated land for industrial, commercial and residential purposes.

"We have actually started distributing some of these plots," he said. "The master plan covers all cities and zones in the emirate of Sharjah," said bin Butti while answering a question about the need to speed up the removal of old houses at Al Sajaa.

"Services to the new Al Rahmaniya and Al Siyouh areas are being provided. Other new areas are being developed in co-operation with banks, as was the case at Al Tai area and the semi-governmental Al Nojoom Islands project," he said.

Regarding the redevelopment of existing areas, bin Butti said the department had removed 95 per cent of the old houses in Al Sajaa and Al Fisht and 85 per cent of the affected residents had received compensation. About Dh2 billion had been paid as compensation between 2007 and 2009 to UAE residents at Al Sajaa, Al Ghubaiba, Al Sabkha, Al Qadisiya, Al Nasseriya and Maysaloon.

Bin Butti said: "The department has completed 50 per cent of a project to develop the Eastern Zone. The project involves developing the coastline of Kalba and Khorfakkan and setting up tourist villages. Land has been allocated for the setting up of commercial centres on the outskirts of Sharjah's suburbs.

Other projects will include providing parks for workers in the industrial areas and developing the waterfronts of Al Khan, Khalid and Al Mamzar lagoons. A 20m sqft plot has been allocated for Sharjah Medical City, which will include a centre providing specialised treatment and health education. Industrial Area One, which is situated on the lagoons next to the modern part of Sharjah, will be shifted, he said.

The department is preparing a plan to provide land for residential use taking into consideration current and future needs based on rates of growth seen during the past 20 years.

"Expansion plans are under consideration. There is a surplus of land in the Central District and a shortage of land in the Eastern District."

Forty-five sites for new multi-storey car parks have been earmarked across the city, with locations chosen on the basis of the population density of the selected areas.

Bin Butti said the department was preparing a long-term transplant plan for the period up to 2040. And plans for the Sharjah section of the Etihad Train, which will eventually link the GCC countries, were also being prepared. "The department is represented on the committee formed by the National Transport Authority for this purpose."

The master plan also covers improvements in areas such as Al Majarra, Al Khan, Al Fisht, Al Shiyoukh and Al Shweiheen. Plans have been drawn up to improve Al Hamriya and provide all services and attractions.

"We have allocated land for offices of the different government departments, tourist villages, parkland, a wedding hall and a new commercial area," he said.

"We have distributed 350 commercial plots. Al Hamriya will have a new corniche, a fishermen's village, marine club, central souq and a fish market," said bin Butti.


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