The project involves construction of a 24-kilometre-long signal-free corridor from Zero Point to Rawat.

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has finally given a green signal to go-ahead with the proposed Rs17.5 billion Islamabad Expressway expansion project.

The project involves construction of a 24-kilometre-long signal-free corridor from Zero Point to Rawat.

A senior official privy to the development said that the government has also consented to bear upto 50 per cent cost of the project and allocation will be made in upcoming budget.

It has been decided to pre-qualify consultant firms for design, construction and supervision of the project.

“The Rs17.5 billion cost is tentative and based on estimations. It can be reduced or enhanced upon completion of the engineering design,” said an official of the Capital Development Authority adding that the sources of funding and mood of execution are yet to be determined.

The official rejected the notion that highrise buildings on both sides of the highway would be erected. “It’s not true. At right of way of this highway four-lane service roads [on both sides] will be constructed as part of the project,” he said.

But, a senior officer of the Cabinet Division, privy to a meeting at the Prime Minister’s office the other day, where this project was discussed, confirmed that the road would be developed on the patron of Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road, which is a signal-free corridor with highrise buildings on both sides.

He said that the government wanted to strengthen road network of Islamabad as part of developing a new trade corridor which also involved a new road link to China. “For that reason, the government has focused construction of the Kashmir Highway, Margalla Highway and the signal-free Islamabad Highway,” the official said.

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The project involves construction of two overhead passages one each in front of Karal Chowk and the Defence Housing Authority with some seven underpasses mostly in front of housing societies located along the highway.

After the expansion, the highway would have 10 lanes — five lanes on each side of the highway — with three flexible and two rigid pavements. The portion of the Islamabad Expressway between Zero Point and Koral Chowk is already consisted of 10 lanes.

A CDA official said that if the project was carried out it would reduce the travel time between Zero Point and Rawat from 40-minute to approximately 14 minutes.

If executed, the project would help further expansion of the city towards south-eastern edge of Rawat and its adjoining areas. The project would also boost real estate business in Zone-V of Islamabad, as dozens of private housing societies including Bahria Town and DHA fall along the highway.

On February 1, the CDA board had also approved the project.