Two new Salik tollgates – one on Sheikh Zayed Road at intersection two and the other on Maktoum Bridge – will be introduced on September 9. Motorists passing through the new Sheikh Zayed Road gate and the existing Al Barsha gate will be charged a fee of Dh4 only once if they cross the two gates during the same journey, said Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman and Executive Director of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).
There were mixed reactions to the announcement of the new gates. Many motorists said the move would push up the cost of living but transport companies said it would not affect their businesses as they were already paying the maximum daily charge of Dh24.
Al Tayer said the second phase of the Salik project was being introduced after a comprehensive study of the first stage and the effects of the opening of the new Garhoud Bridge.
"The study focused on the traffic jams that form on some major roads and options that could resolve the problem. It highlighted the success of the first phase in reducing traffic at toll areas by 25 per cent, reducing the time of a journey along Sheikh Zayed Road by 50 per cent and increasing the average speed from 40 to 80 km/h." The research showed that high traffic loads on Maktoum Bridge caused traffic congestion on some roads in Deira and congestion in Barsha and Sufouh was caused by motorists taking diversions to avoid the Barsha gate.
"The study concluded that a new phase of Salik should be launched on the congested roads to redistribute traffic onto major routes and Creek crossings, especially after the launch of the new Garhoud Bridge," added Al Tayer. He said that at peak times when there was congestion on Maktoum Bridge the parallel roads and bridges such as Business Bay Crossing, Garhoud Bridge and Emirates Road were at only 70 per cent of its capacity. He said some motorists avoided Al Barsha gate by using other roads, causing congestion at Al Barsha and Sufouh and disturbing residents. The only way to resolve this issue was by installing a new tollgate at Safa Park Bridge on Sheikh Zayed Road with toll charges to be deducted only once for each journey from Safa to Al Barsha gate and vice versa.
The study emphasised the importance of installing a new tollgate on Maktoum Bridge in order to reduce congestion there and gridlock in Deira and to benefit from the new Garhoud bridge and Business Bay Crossing. "Salik, a pioneering project, has proven to be highly efficient since its inception as a unique solution to resolve traffic issues.
"It also supports RTA's strategy to provide easy and safe transportation.
"Salik is a part of integrated solutions that aim to reduce traffic levels.
"These comprise road projects and infrastructure, metro systems and public and marine transport.
The use of public transport will be encouraged to reduce traffic jams in Dubai. Salik is an effective tool to reduce the use of private cars."
Al Tayer stressed on the success of the Salik services in gaining the trust of motorists and praised their understanding of the positive side of the system in easing traffic congestions and improving traffic infrastructure. Al Tayer said the Salik system had gained the trust of motorists and praised their understanding of the positive side of the system in easing congestion.
Kamran Ahmed, General Manager of the Fantasy Transport Company, said the introduction of the new gates would not affect the business at all.
"Under the current Salik system we pay Dh24 per day for each vehicle, so the new gates are not going to add to our operating costs."
El Rawah Omeer Ibrahim, General Manager of the Metro Transport taxi company, said: "The addition of new Salik gates will not affect us at all.
"We leave it up to the customer to decide whether they want the vehicle to go through the Salik gates or not. This is the first thing we do when a customers gets on board. However, the Salik gates do not come without their problems.
"We have the problem of taxi drivers charging the customers the extra Salik fee and keeping it themselves. However we have informed the RTA and they said they will find a solution to the problem by having the Salik gates automatically add Dh4 to the meter."
An official at another taxi company who did not wish to be named also said the business would not be affected. "It will no affect us as the travellers will bear the expense. It is our job to inform them whether they want to go through the Salik route and whether they are willing to pay the extra fee.
"Having more Salik gates only means fewer options for customers to avoid paying the charge."
There are five alternative roads and a range of public transport services to support the new phase of Salik. The alternative roads include:
- Business Bay Crossing, which has 13 lanes and connects the airport tunnel with Sheikh Rashid and Al Khail Road.
- Shindagha Tunnel and the Floating Bridge are other alternatives that link the end of Al Ittihad Road near Deira City Centre with Al Riyadh Road in Bur Dubai.
- Emirates Road has been expanded by the RTA from three to six lanes in each direction, in addition to the Arabian Ranches intersection that will be finalised in August.
- Dubai Bypass, with six lanes in each direction, is one of the external alternative roads. It connects Dubai with Abu Dhabi and Sharjah without having to pass through downtown Dubai.
- Construction work to expand the Sharjah entrance with Dubai at Al Sajaa intersection up to the Al Rawia intersection on Dubai-Al Ain road will be finalised before the new phase of Salik system starts.
- Construction of the road projects in Deira which will lead to the alternative routes will be finished within the set time schedule.
- In June 2008 the RTA will finish phase one of the Al Nahda intersection – Beirut Street project. This scheme will develop a highway that connects the Al Quds intersection road with Beirut Street reaching up to the Al Nahda intersection with Beirut Street. The project is part of the development phase of the northern section of the airport tunnel.