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30 November 2023

The Dh44-billion solution to Dubai’s traffic woes

By Ashaba K Abdul Basti


The numbers alone make impressive reading – Dh44 billion to be spent building 500km of new roads in the next 12 years.

But aside from grabbing headlines, the figures represent the best hope of a solution to current traffic problems and a way of preparing Dubai for more than a decade of staggering growth.

The number of residents is predicted to grow from 1.5 million who currently live in the city to more than five million by 2020.

And with the emirate’s seemingly intransigent car culture, officials are pulling out all the stops to accommodate the increasing number of vehicles that will hit the roads each year.

Insufficient road capacity contributes to more than half of Dubai’s road congestion and costs the emirate Dh4.6bn annually in economic losses, according to a survey by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

Dubai’s current urban area of 500 sq km will more than quadruple in size to 2,200 sq km by 2020, while the number of registered vehicles is expected to increase from the current 700,000 to 5.3 million; hence, the crushing demand for new roads.

The RTA has developed a strategic road network plan with international consultants Parsons-USA. Together, they have prioritised a series of ambitious road projects that will help ease traffic and allow residents to commute freely. A lot is riding on the plan, which will have to accommodate 22 million daily trips in only 12 years time, up from the six million that the emirate’s roads experience today.

Current and future road projects will see an increase in the number of lanes across the Creek – a major traffic bottleneck – from the current 40 to 49 in 2010 and to 100 in 2020.

And by the time the plan is fully implemented, Dubai will have 95 new interchanges, 25 modified interchanges, 100 direct links between areas and nine new inner and outer ring roads around focal areas.

Future road projects

SHINDAGHA BRIDGE AND FIFTH CROSSING: Two new bridges over the Creek, one next to Al Shindagha Tunnel and near the Deira Sheraton, will be constructed to form an internal ring road around Deira.

The bridges will be ready next year at a cost of Dh1bn and will have a combined total of 24 lanes. The Roads and Transport Authority will upgrade 13 interchanges and will construct some small bridges leading up to the new bridges to ensure the smooth flow of traffic on the ring road.

RING ROADS: A total of nine inner and outer ring roads will be created at Jebel Ali Port, Dubailand, Business Bay, Bur Dubai and Deira.

NEW ROADS:A total of 500km of roads will be added to the existing road network by 2020.

The numbers

  - 100: The total number of lanes crossing the Creek by 2020

  - 95: Number of new interchanges to be built in the next 12 years

  - 9: New inner and outer ringroads will be created as Dubai’s urban
    area expands

  - 22m: Daily journeys made in 2020 – up from six million today

Under construction

Projects worth more than Dh8bn are under construction:

DUBAI OUTER BYPASS: Work is progressing on the Dh960 million road. The 72km Dubai Bypass road linking the borders of Sharjah and Abu Dhabi will be a viable alternative to motorists driving between Abu Dhabi and the Northern Emirates and will mean they don’t have to drive through the city of Dubai. The road runs parallel to Emirates and Sheikh Zayed roads. It is being constructed in three phases and the first phase is nearing completion, while 50 per cent of the second phase has been finished. The third phase began in July and the entire project is to be ready next year.

NEW GARHOUD BRIDGE: The 13-lane bridge under construction will fully replace the existing six-lane Al Garhoud Bridge, which will eventually be demolished. Four lanes on the bridge are now open to motorists and the bridge will be fully operational in March. The cost of the project, which started in February 2006, is Dh415m. It rises 15 metres above the water level, ensuring free navigation for boats in the Creek.

AL ITTIHAD ROAD REVAMP: Construction work is on to retrofit Al Ittihad Road (Sharjah-Dubai road), used by 200,000 vehicles daily. The Dh830m project, expected to ease traffic on the road by 58 per cent, includes development of an eight-lane expressway on a 7.5km stretch of road between Al Nahda Interchange near Sharjah and Al Garhoud Bridge. The project also includes the development of eight expressway lanes and the building of additional service lanes on each side. Construction is to be completed by the end of this year.

ARABIAN RANCHES INTERCHANGE: A three-level interchange with 13 bridges – the largest interchange currently under construction – is expected to be ready in the last quarter of this year. Work began in June 2006 and the final cost of the project has been put at Dh409m.

Double-decked road: The first double-decked road in Dubai is being built on Doha Street at a cost of Dh605m and is part of the Dh1.86bn Ras Al Khor corridor project. The two layer road includes three lanes towards Jumeirah and five lanes towards Al Khail Road and will be completed in August.

ROAD EXPANSIONS: Expansion of Emirates Road from three to six lanes on either side has been partially completed [30km]. Expansion of the entire length of the road within Dubai will be completed by mid-2008 at a cost of Dh333m. Expansion work is also on to increase the number of lanes on Al Khail Road to six on both sides.