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24 April 2024

New access from Discovery Gardens to JLT... but by year-end

3-lane traffic on internal roads in Discovery Gardens. Image contributed by Parag Deulgaonkar

By Majorie van Leijen

Residents of Discovery Gardens may have to be a little patient, but by the end of this year access in and out of the community should be improved with the opening of a new road.

Residents of the community, which is located just behind Ibn Battuta Mall in Jebel Ali area, faced some of the biggest traffic gridlocks last month when several elements deteriorated the already jammed traffic flow on the internal roads.

A combination of a road closure by the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) due to illegal crossovers on this road and the effect of rainfall, causing slow-driving traffic, led traffic in the community to reach an ultimate gridlock, with commuters reporting to be stuck for hours without moving out of the area.

During peak hours, getting in or out of Discovery Gardens has been a problem recently. With relatively low rent prices, many residents have flocked to the community, which is now said to have an occupancy rate of 90 per cent.

During early morning hours and evenings, internal roads in the community are jammed, and road users take into account a delay in their commute of at least 30 minutes.

When these delays went from minutes to hours last month, Nakheel responded with the opening of a temporary route between Discovery Gardens, Al Furjan and the E77 (Al Yalayis Road), which connects Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Road and Sheikh Zayed Road.

However, accessibility to the community remains a problem and a permanent solution is required. This solution will come in the form of a few new roads, one of these being the extension of Al Saada Road, said the RTA.

The extension will link Discovery Gardens with Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT), Jumeirah Islands, Jumeirah Park and Emirates Hills, Maitha bin Adai, CEO of the Traffic and Roads Agency (TRA) at RTA explained.

The link will dissolve access to Discovery Gardens and Ibn Battuta Mall from Sheikh Zayed Road, she added. The road will be approximately 1.5 kilometers and form an extension of the existing Al Saada Street, while at the same time providing access to Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Road.

According to residents, a road linking Ibn Battuta with JLT is already visible, although road blocks prevent commuters from entering the road. Similarly, residents in JLT are under the impression that it will not take long before they can directly cross-over to Discovery Gardens.

However, the RTA insists that the project is under construction and planned for completion by the end of this year.

JLT traffic

Similar traffic congestion was experienced in JLT during end-2013, when extensive road works on the internal roads were carried out. Long traffic jams were seen during peak hours, leaving commuters stranded in the community for hours.

In December the opening of three access points was announced, which would enable commuters to opt for other ways out of the community. All located at the backside of the community, the entry points described by the RTA were the first entrance into JLT via Al Khail First Road (previously known as the Western Parallel Road), the entry point at the south side of the community, also called the Jebel Ali exit and the entry road from Ibn Battuta Mall.

The first two access points were indeed opened, and this led to improved traffic flow on the internal roads of the community. For residents, who considered the limited access points of JLT one of the shortcomings of the community, the access meant a breeze through the area.

However, the entry road from Ibn Batuta remained closed without further notice.

Access to Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Road

For both communities the key to improved access seems to lie in the anticipated connection to Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Road. As Hussein Al Banna, Director of Traffic at the RTA mentioned earlier to his website: "To ease the ongoing traffic congestion alternative routes are under construction which includes two exits: one from Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Road and the other through interchange 5.5 from Sheikh Zayed Road.”

Similarly, in relation to the access to JLT, Maitha explained that Al Khail First Road would be extended to Sheikh Mohamad bin Zayed Road, Discovery Gardens, Ibn Battuta Mall and would include a link to Jafza in the future.

“We anticipate travel time for getting in and out of the existing developments to significantly reduce due to replacing the at-grade junctions, which have limited capacity, into free-flow junctions besides providing a totally new link to Sheikh Mohamad bin Zayed Road to better distribute the traffic, especially during peak hours,” she added.