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Sunday, 13 February 2011

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New Marine Drive to ease traffic congestion

The much talked of and long anticipated New Marine Drive is now getting ready for a comfortable and breezy drive. A project in the pipeline for nearly a decade is gaining momentum as construction has begun and the blueprint has got the green light.


The Marine Drive near Bambalapitiya

The Marine Drive was constructed with the prime objective of easing traffic congestion on Galle Road and evenly distributing it to both roads.

The stretch from Bambalapitiya to Kollupitiya parallel to the Galle road, is now open and it is to be extended up to Galle Face.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa made a surprise visit to the construction site of the Marine Drive to review progress.

Plans are under way to fill the sea from Kollupitiya up to Galle Face alongside the railway line.

"This is a mammoth project that has now reached construction stage," an official from the Urban Development Authority (UDA) said. The Colombo Municipality would play a major role in this regard.

The proposed drive would end at the start of the Galle Face Green from the Galle Face hotel area and it would be then connected to the Galle Road from the Galle Face roundabout.

The official said that at first they wanted to reclaim land adjoining the railway line but had to abandon the idea as it was far too expensive to pay compensation. "There were also several landmark buildings such as the British, Indian and US missions, along with the Colombo Swimming Club, Galle Face Hotel and St. Thomas' Preparatory School and several other prime proprieties that would have lost their value if we went ahead to acquire their lands," the official said.

He also said that this is the first time land was being reclaimed in Sri Lanka to build a new road.

The existing waterways will be widened, deepened and improved for transport, mainly to serve the administrative blocks, for the convenience of those who transact business with government departments. The private sector too has been invited, in addition to the Navy to operate boat services for passengers. Meanwhile, one of the biggest problems of the business establishments in Colombo are to be solved as the government has decided to allow parking on Galle Road from Bambalapitiya to Kollupitiya. Already there is a boat service operating from the Open University Nawala to Wellawatta area.

"We will allow parking on both sides of the Galle Road as there were several requests to do so," said Chairman UDA Janaka Kurukulasuriya.

He said that already parking bays are being constructed on both sides of the road and facilities are also being provided for buses on the sea side of the Galle Road.

He said that they have also talked to shop owners on either side of this stretch to have uniformity in buildings.

"We will soon decide on a colour scheme for the area," he said.

The stretch from Bambalapitiya and Kollupitiya is a highly illuminated area in the night. "We see several different colours which makes it an eye sore.

The UDA along with the CMC would talk to the business establishments and request them to have a single colour for illumination as a bid to beautify this area," he said.He also said that the response they get from the business establishments for this is very encouraging.

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