• Thursday, Apr 09, 2020
  • Last Update : 03:05 am

Bangladesh's first expressway opens Thursday

  • Published at 12:21 am March 11th, 2020

The four-lane highway, designed for fast traffic, will reduce Dhaka-Faridpur travel time by several hours

Bangladesh’s first ever expressway, from Dhaka to Faridpur's Bhanga upazila, will open for public use on Thursday.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the high-speed superhighway via videoconference from her office, according to Roads and Highways Department (RHD) Engineer Khandaker Golam Mostafa.

Mostafa, also the project manager, told Dhaka Tribune that officials concerned will join the videoconference from the city’s Dholaipar area — from where the 54.7km four-lane Dhaka-Bhanga Expressway begins.

He said commuters will be able to take full advantage of the expressway after the now under-construction Padma Bridge is completed. According to the Bridges Division, the 6.15km multipurpose bridge will likely be opened to traffic in June 2021.

The expressway will reduce travel time between Dhaka and Faridpur by several hours, improving connectivity between Dhaka and the southern districts.

It is also part of the Asian Highway 1 (AH1), connecting Dhaka and Kolkata through the Benapole border, which will make international journeys more comfortable.

The 54.7km four-lane Dhaka-Bhanga Expressway is expected to reduce travel time between Dhaka and Faridpur by several hours, improving connectivity between the capital and the southern districts | Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Now, commuters usually spend seven to eight hours to reach Faridpur from Dhaka as their usual route is only a two-lane road, which almost always suffers from severe gridlock.

Moreover, a limited number of ferries and their slow movement contribute in making the journeys needlessly longer. All of these will change once the expressway opens to traffic.

Tk11,000cr project

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) had approved the expressway project on May 3, 2016.

RHD and Special Work Organization of Bangladesh Army, under the supervision of the Road Transport and Highways Division, are implementing the project at a cost of Tk11,003.90 crore.

Initially, the estimated project cost was Tk6,252 crore and was scheduled to be completed by December 2018. It was later revised to Tk6,892 crore, but the construction was still only half done with the allocated funds already spent.

The government then took a new initiative to finish the incomplete work of the expressway’s Dhaka-Mawa part with an additional Tk4,111.86 crore, aiming to complete it by June 2020.

The expressway was implemented in two parts — 34.7km from Jatrabari to Mawa and 20km from Pachchar to Bhanga, with each kilometre costing over Tk200 crore.

About the expressway

An expressway is an urban motorway or highway designed for fast traffic, with controlled access.

On the four-lane Dhaka-Bhanga Expressway, drivers will get four entry and exit points between Dhaka and Mawa, and three between Pachchar and Bhanga.

Slow moving vehicles will have to use two service lanes on either side of the expressway.

The 54.7km four-lane Dhaka-Bhanga Expressway is expected to reduce travel time between Dhaka and Faridpur by several hours, improving connectivity between the capital and the southern districts | Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka TribuneThe expressway includes a five-metre-wide central reservation, two service roads, three large bridges over Dhaleshwari and Arial Kha rivers, and 28 culverts and bridges of different lengths, officials told Dhaka Tribune.

Six flyovers and four railroad overpasses have also been constructed under the project to ensure uninterrupted vehicular movement on the highway.

Additionally, there will be designated space for elevated rail services.

During a recent visit, this correspondent found that a railway overpass in Jurain area of the expressway was ready for opening, with vehicles already using it.

The expressway starts from the Dholaipar intersection, where an artery of the Mayor Mohammad Hanif Flyover (Gulistan-Jatrabari) descends, and goes towards Mawa through the Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge (locally known as Postogola Bridge) over Buriganga River.

The bridge may briefly hamper a smooth journey as it is much narrower than the expressway. The Babubazar Bridge over the Buriganga also hinders easy passage in a similar way.

Project manager Mostafa said the government will also build two bridges over Buriganga River to improve conditions of traffic going towards the expressway.