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Work on longest tunnel in Mideast on schedule

By Zaigham Ali Mirza / 20 August 2004

DUBAI - The Dh686 million-road network project under construction around the Dubai International Airport, which also includes building a 1.6 km-long tunnel, is over 52 per cent complete, according to Dubai Municipality's Roads Department.

The works on the tunnel, considered the longest and widest tunnel of its kind in the Middle East, had begun last year in March-April, and it is expected to be ready by March 29, next year. Being constructed in five phases the project will serve traffic resulting from the massive expansions underway at the international airport, and is part of the civic body's plans to improve traffic flow in Dubai.

The massive tunnel is being constructed directly beneath the airport, and once complete, would be linked to the existing and under construction road network with seven shorter tunnels. An official at the department told Khaleej Times that the tunnel would be something not seen before in the region, both in terms of technology and beauty.

"The equipment being installed in the tunnel is absolutely top of the line. For instance, motorists will not, unlike in underpasses or short tunnels, lose their mobile phone network or FM radio network when they travel through the tunnel," he said adding that both aesthetics and technology are being given equal attention.

Part of the project also includes the construction of road signals, landscaping, street lighting, and irrigation and drainage system, utilities related to tunnel safety such as fire detection and alarm system, variable message sign, carbon monoxide and smoke ventilation system and closed circuit television system.

According to the municipality, the tunnel will have four lanes in direction, shoulders and pavements, and will ease traffic flow in and around the international airport. New interchanges and shorter tunnels are also being built are also being built to avoid snarls in the vicinity due to expansion work. The major tunnel will replace the Rashidiya Road, and part of the road that links the Al Rashidiya and Al Twar interchanges from Beirut Road will be removed for the extension of a runway. The demolished part of the road will be replaced by a tunnel that will connect Nad Al Hamr Road near the Airport Expo in Al Twar area.

The seven smaller tunnels are expected to facilitate free access to the upcoming Terminal Three of the Airport, while a new interchange on Al Garhoud Road will ease traffic from Cargo Village. There will be a free-flow interchange to connect Al Rashidiya area with Al Ghusais.

Meanwhile the municipality is also looking into the feasibility of linking roads around the airport, such as Al Ittihad Road, Al Rashidiya Road, Al Nahda Road, Al Twar Road and the Airport Road. According to the civic body the number of people using the airport is projected to reach 42 million by 2020 as against 13 million in 2000.



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