To get rid of horrendous traffic gridlock on the Gabtoli-Nabinagar Highway, Road Transport and Highways Division (RTHD) has taken a project to upgrade the highway to an eight-lane expressway. The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council has already approved the project.
The 22-km long Gabtoli-Nabinagar highway is an important entry to Dhaka for vehicles coming from northern and western regions of the country. Traffic congestion is a regular phenomenon on the hugely crowded road as the number of vehicles plying it usually surpasses its capacity. Prior to Eid and other holidays, traffic jam on the highway becomes even more acute and unbearable. That is why the project has been taken up, said sources in the RTHD.
RTHD sources also said the eight-lane expressway, to be constructed under Public-Private Partnership (PPP), will have one service lane on each side. Access would be controlled in the other six lanes. The construction firm would get back their costs through toll collections.
The ECNEC approved the project in July this year. Prior to that Dhaka Transport Coordination Authority (DTCA) approved the project last year. The construction cost of the expressway would be Tk 1,500 crore, said DTCA sources.
Experts hoped that construction of the expressway will ensure smooth plying of vehicles on of the three most important entries to the capital.
The expressway would have several exit points along its 22-km length. Using those points, vehicles would be able to go out of the expressway.
Flyovers would be also constructed under the project at several points, including Gabtoli, Hemayetpur, Savar and Nabinagar. In addition, six underpasses would be constructed at various points to ensure regular flow of pedestrians and vehicles.
Low-speed vehicles that would not need the expressway would ply the two service lanes on both sides.
At present, the highway has four lanes. It takes more than an hour to go from Gabtoli to Nabinagar due to traffic jam. During Eid, traffic jam on the road becomes so acute that it takes several hours to pass the 22-km road.
DTCA sources claimed after the construction of the expressway, it will take only 20 minutes.
Hamidur Rahman, a BRTC driver who regularly drives on the highway, said, “It takes minimum one and a half hours from Gabtoli to Nabinagar. All kinds of long and short route vehicles run on the road where makeshift bazaars are seen at every bus stand, clearing obstacle to long-distance vehicles.”
“At times, the highway becomes worse than the traffic jam-prone roads of Dhaka,” he added.
In reply to a query over the present state of the project, Roads and Highways Department’s additional chief engineer Abdus Sabur said, “The project is still at primary stage of implementation.”