The first phase of the National Paints Widening Project has been completed, which means smoother and shorter travel between Dubai and the Northern Emirates.
The newly constructed bridge was officially opened for traffic on Saturday. The bridge has added two lanes to the three-lane highway in the northern direction. Similar road improvements will be completed in the direction towards Dubai in the coming few weeks.
Although early birds enjoyed a faster-than-ever ride along the intersection this weekend, the real test for the road is this week, as thousands of motorists resort to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road daily in their commute between Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman.
“A great commute,” commented Othman Anad, a Syrian resident of Ajman who works in Dubai and travels daily between the emirates. “At most there was slow-driving traffic, but I did not stand still.
“Normally, traffic is at a standstill from Mirdif all the way up to National Paints, but today traffic was moving even during peak hours,” said Emad Al Nairabieh, a Syrian resident of Sharjah working in Dubai.
“I usually take Emirates Road but when I heard that the bridge had opened, I wanted to try the new road. I left around 7.30pm from Tecom and I reached the area behind National Paints just 40 minutes later,” he added.
SMBZ Road is one of the main roads linking the emirates, starting from the outskirts of Abu Dhabi and leading all the way up north to Ras Al Khaimah. It is a popular road for commuters, which means traffic is heavy during peak hours. With the installation of two new Salik gates along Al Ittihad Road and Beirut Road, more motorists resorted to the freeway.
However, as construction on the National Paints intersection started, the area became a bottleneck and commuters started to complain of long traffic jams.
“The completion of the project itself leads to a smoother traffic flow, which was immediately visible this morning. The widening of the road improved the accessibility of this route,” said Nadeem Mohammad, who lives in Sharjah and travels to Dubai every day.
With the shortened travel time, it is not only the work commute that has become less troublesome. The trip from Dubai to Ras Al Khaimah can now really be done in 45 minutes, noted Alexander McNabb, who was one of the first to try out the new road this weekend.
“We took the Mohammed bin Zayed Road north from Dubai to Ajman on Saturday - the day the northern section of the National Paints Widening project opened - and what a glorious ride it was. Not a queue in sight. Five lanes of blissful blacktop all the way over the top and down the other side,” McNabb wrote in his blog.
“Perhaps a little hesitancy as traffic encountered the new section, likely a lot to do with the lack of road markings,” he added.
Indeed, the road may have to win back those commuters who had once given up on the freeway. “I take Al Ittihad Road, as this road leads to the part of Sharjah where I live. But if this road takes me home faster, it is worth giving it a try,” commented Sheila Kassab, another Syrian resident of Sharjah working in Dubai.
Others have moved to Emirates Road, which despite being a bit further east, remains a hassle-free connection to the northern emirates.
The widening of National Paints is the third stage in a larger road improvement projec.