Just 18 days after the opening of the Bangabandhu Tunnel under the Karnaphuli river, the newly built Chattogram Elevated Expressway promises to boost the port city’s traffic connectivity.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to virtually inaugurate the country’s second elevated expressway on a 16-kilometre route from Lalkhan Bazar to Shah Amanat International Airport on Tuesday morning.
She will also officiate two other road projects completed in association with the Chattogram Development Authority.
The traffic management system of the city is expected to witness a big change after the inauguration of these projects, which the authorities believe will reduce passenger’s hassle.
The expressway, which has been named after late Mayor ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury, will connect the airport, Patenga, Chattogram port, EPZ and Agrabad areas to the centre of the city.
Initially, the airport to Tiger Pass section, which has no ramps to get off in between the ends of the route, will open to traffic.
One of the two roads constructed by the CDA from Sirajuddoula Road to Shah Amanat Bridge intersection in Bakalia has been named Jane Alam Dubash Sarak. The other one linking the city’s two parts, Bayazid Bostami and Faujdarhat, has been named “Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Sarak. The routes were unofficially opened to traffic in 2020.
Goods-laden vehicles and people from Anowara, Bashkhali, Cox’s Bazar and various Upazilas in South Chattogram can reach the city’s centre via the newly-constructed Bangabandhu Tunnel.
They will have to wait until the opening of the expressway’s 14 ramps, expected to complete by June next year.
“The tunnel and the elevated expressway are supplemental to each other. The vehicles using the tunnel from South Chattogram will get faster access to the city’s centre after the inauguration of the expressway,” said CDA Chief Engineer Kazi Hasan Bin Shams.
The city’s traffic management system will be entirely changed when the route is fully operational, he said.
"The vehicles from Patenga will be able to travel to Tiger Pass now through the expressway but they can’t return through the Tiger Pass end. We are working to complete ramps in the section to Lalkhan Bazar by December.”
The expressway has been built at a cost of nearly Tk 43 billion. The authorities extended the project’s completion deadline to June next year. Among 14 ramps, the project has one ramp each on the GEC intersection and Fakirhat, two each on Tiger Pass, Nimtala, CEPZ and KEPZ and four in Agrabad.
“The CDA began construction of two ramps. Tenders for the rest of the 12 ramps have also been issued as the cabinet approved the bid for procurement last week. The construction will begin soon and the route will be fully operational in June next year,” Shams said.
Apart from the expressway, the two other road projects have been operational since 2020 to reduce passengers' stress but they are not officially launched yet.
Besides these, the four-lane Bakalia link road, built at a cost of Tk 2.17 billion, connects the city’s centre to the south.
The construction of the road, stretching from the city’s Sirajuddoula Road to the Shah Amanat Bridge intersection, took seven years. The project was supposed to be completed in three years but a legal fight over the removal of a multi-storeyed building delayed the progress.
The road will take passengers from the city’s centre to Shah Amanat Bridge in a few minutes, avoiding traffic gridlocks in the Chawkbazar and Bahaddarhat areas. Similarly, the bridge will speed up the vehicles from Cox’s Bazar and South Chattogram at the entrance of the city.
The other six-kilometre-long route, stretching from the city’s Bayazid Bostami to Faujdarhat on the Dhaka-Chattogram Highway, has been built at a cost of Tk 3.53 billion.
Hasina inaugurated the link route project which had a budget of over Tk 1.72 billion in 2016. The authorities decided to extend the two-lane route to four lanes afterwards, hiking its cost.
The road will enable vehicles from Kaptai, Rangamati, Hathazari, Raozan and Rangunia to use the Dhaka-Chattogram Highway straight without travelling through the city. Similarly, the vehicles plying the highway will get straight access to Bayazid Bostami.
The total cost of these three road projects is Tk 48.7 billion.
[Writing in English by Akramul Momen]