Only 20 minutes to BIA:
Katunayake Expressway ready next year
It was way back in the mid-seventies that discussions were conducted
to construct a road from Peliyagoda to the Colombo International
Airport. This was mainly targeting the Non-Aligned Summit that was being
hosted in Sri Lanka.
Plans were drawn and even a few bridges were constructed towards this
highway. However, it never got off the ground and only the bridges and a
huge red bill remained with the Government as the mark of a failed
However, film-makers, advertisers and politicians used the Peliyagoda
Bridge to put up their hoardings and it would be interesting to see if
taxes were ever paid for advertising on this bridge.
After almost 30 years, the topic of an expressway to the airport was
taken up again and in 2,000 a consortium once again got off the ground.
However, this time around too, financial problems put a spoke on the
project and it was stalled once again.
With the rapid expansion of the Colombo airport and tourism booming a
quick access to the Colombo airport was a crying need. VVIPs, investors,
tourists as well as the public did not have time to waste travelling
from Colombo to the airport. President Mahinda Rajapaksa intervened and
negotiated with the Exim Bank of China to fund this project.
It soon started moving again and today nearly 60 percent has been
The investment for the project is US$ 292 million, and the project
has been awarded on a Design and Build Basis.
If the expressway was built 10 years ago, Sri Lanka could have saved
over one billion rupees.
China Metallurgical Group Corporation, the contractor for the
project, is one of the largest companies in the world and is listed
among the world’s 500 largest companies (Fortune 500). The Sri Lankan
Government too would contribute 15 percent of the cost.
Access to the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway (CKE) would be from the
New Kelani Bridge Interchange and from the Peliyagoda Interchange. For
the second interchange two roads would be built from the Negombo road
and Kandy road.
The third interchange at Kerawalapitiya would connect the CKE with
the Outer Circular Highway.
The Colombo outer circular express highway would be a 29 km (18 mile)
long outer circular road network that will link the proposed
Colombo-Matara Expressway with the proposed Colombo-Katunayake
Expressway. It will provide an orbital beltway to bypass the city of
Colombo and reduce traffic congestion. The project is funded by the
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Construction of the road commenced in October 2009 and will be
completed next year. Access will be provided to all “A” class roads via
interchanges. The highway will have an operational speed limit of 80
km/h and is to be built with four lanes and provisions to upgrade the
road for six lanes of traffic.
This Outer Circular Highway is being built to connect the CKE with
the Colombo_Matara Expressway, enabling a driver to go to the airport
without coming to Colombo.
A person would be able to drive to the Colombo airport in less than
one hour and 20 minutes.
The Ja-Ela Interchange would be the fourth interchange and the CKE
would end near the Katunayake railway station.
Motorists using the expressway would have to pay a nominal fee once
it is commissioned. No three-wheelers or motor bikes would be allowed on
the expressway, thus maintaining international standards.
The CKE would have 42 bridges and 88 culverts to ensure the smooth
flow of traffic.
Land acquisition and resettlement due to the project were also
closely monitored and Rs. 1,620 million paid in compensation for the
acquired land to 700 families that had to be relocated.
Nearly 1,400 people have been directly employed on the project while
several local contractors have been given sub-contracts.
The CKE will be the first fee-levying road project in the country.
“It is the only highway that is being built using sea sand,” said
Project Director (CKE) M.P.K.L. Gunaratne. Another feature is the
careful planning the authorities resorted to when designing this
project. “We paid great emphasis to landscaping the area and environment
concerns were a priority”, Gunaratne said.
He said this was the reason they built several bridges on the lagoon
near Airport Garden Hotel, allowing the hotel to maintain its lagoon
“They can even take a boat to the hotel from the bridges”.
This is also the first time that a road has been constructed on a
lagoon for a highway. The length of this stretch is 750 metres.
The travel time of 90 minutes from the New Kelani Bridge to
Katunayake on the existing Peliyagoda-Puttalam road will be reduced to
20 minutes with the completion of the highway.
Katunayake, Ja-Ela and Seeduwa have enough land for resettlement,
however people did not want to settle in these areas as it takes nearly
two hours to travel to Colombo. While creating a high mobility link
between the city of Colombo and the Katunayake International Airport,
the new highway would also be promoting outward migration of public from
Colombo. It would also improve user benefits to the rapidly expanding
transport traffic.”So in future, we would see large housing complexes
being built near the highway and the land prices would soar soon due to
the anticipated demand.
With the opening of the CKE, many motorists using the Colombo-Negombo
and Colombo-Kandy Road would be using it instead. Then these two roads
would clear, allowing faster driving and less traffic jams”, he said.
It would also help investors move their goods faster, thus reducing
their cost of products. New enterprises such as petrol sheds, hotels,
and shops would be built near the interchanges, providing new
opportunities for business to entrepreneurs.
Decongesting the existing Peliyagoda-Puttalam Road (A3) and enhancing
the safety of the road users would be another advantage.
The existing roads are being redone to fall in line with the CKE and
this is evident in the Colombo-Kandy road up to Kadawatha with an island
being built in the middle of the road and the stretch being carpeted.
The first sight a foreign VIP, investor or tourist visiting Sri Lanka
after a long time would be is of the redeveloped Colombo airport.
The new Expressway would provide the visitor and even better image of
the country and would certainly move the island closer towards its goal
of becoming the Wonder of Asia.
The Colombo-Katunayake Expressway (CKE) is the first of many
expressway projects the Government is in the process of implementing to
strengthen and expand the country’s road network with a view to
fostering a greater economic development in Sri Lanka.
The CKE will be the first fee-levying road project in the country.
*Create a high speed link between Colombo
and Katunayake (International Airport)
*Serve the traffic to and from the Northern
part of the island
*Link with the rapid industrial expansion in
*Encourage outward migration of people
living under congested conditions in and around Colombo
New Kelani Bridge Interchange
Kerawalapitiya Interchange (connect with
Outer Circular Highway)
* Design Details
Speed Limit From 0 to 8 km 80 km / h
From 8 to 25 km 110 km/h
* Road Length
* Carriageway Width
*Number of Lanes
4 and 6