Gridlock near Zero Point as construction of Faisal Avenue underpass begins

24 Jan 2020

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Heavy machinery being used to remove rubble as work on the underpass begins on Thursday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad
Heavy machinery being used to remove rubble as work on the underpass begins on Thursday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad
The layout and the diversion plan of the underpass project.
The layout and the diversion plan of the underpass project.

ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) on Thursday started construction of an underpass on Faisal Avenue to link G-7 and G-8 sectors by diverting traffic near Zero Point on the G-7 side service road.

The Rs395 million project was launched in October. However, after the expansion of the service road, work on the site remained halted for over two months following cancellation of the non-objection certificate (NOC) issued by Pak-Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA).

The temporary closure of the U-turn at Zero Point led to congestion at the U-turn near Pims. The diversion of traffic on the G-7 service road also caused gridlocks in front of Zarai Tarqiati Bank (ZTBL).

A number of motorists complained that the U-turn was closed all of a sudden without announcement in advance due to which they got stuck in the traffic mess.

However, CDA said traffic management, including the diversion, was made in consultation with the Islamabad Traffic Police (ITP) to maintain traffic flow on the avenue.

CDA says project to link G-7 and G-8 will be completed by June

In the first phase, excavation on the eastern side has been started and traffic from Faisal Masjid towards Zero Point, Kashmir Highway etc., has been diverted on the service road (west) of G-7 which was widened before the start of the construction work.

An official of the CDA said eight pine trees in the project site at G-8 side would be transplanted and a transplant machine had been arranged from Lahore.

According to the CDA, the construction of the underpass would be completed in six months.

CDA sources added that EPA had restored the NOC on Wednesday that led to the resumption of work.

EPA reportedly had suspended the NOC in the first week of November after the CDA did not follow some of the directives.

When contacted, CDA Member Engineering Humayun Akhtar said though the project remained halted for two months the civic agency would make efforts to complete it by June. He said once completed the project would ensure smooth flow of traffic on the busy artery as motorists would directly be using the underpass to reach G-7 and G-8.

About the pine trees, he said the machine arranged from Lahore Development Authority (PHA) was expected to reach the capital on Thursday night to plant the trees somewhere else.

It may be noted under Islamabad’s master plan there would be an underpass on all principal roads dividing two sectors.

Faisal Avenue, which is also known as Eight Avenue, will have two underpasses. The second one, which is not part of the project, will be constructed later to link F-7 and F-8.

An engineer of the CDA said the project should be completed within a few months.

“Keeping in view the suffering of the citizens because of the road blockade at Faisal Avenue, we need [former chief minister Punjab] Shahbaz Sharif’s speed. During his tenure, he got completed all mega road projects in Rawalpindi in a short period of time,” he said.

He said if the CDA made all-out efforts, with proper attention and funding, the project could be completed in three to four months.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2020