ISLAMABAD: The much-delayed PWD underpass is almost complete and the CDA is planning to open it to traffic on Thursday.

The project was initially supposed to be completed in May 2021 but the civic agency failed to meet the deadline, putting motorists in trouble.

The CDA changed the completion date of the project thrice. After failing to meet the first deadline of May 2021, a revised deadline of July was fixed which could not be met either. The civic agency then again announced that the project would be ready in September. However, now the civic agency has stated that work is almost complete and both the roads on the overpass having four lanes each will be opened to traffic on Thursday while the underpass is already opened.

“The underpass is already completed and now we are planning to open both the roads of overpass from Oct 21,” said the director road Waqas Farid. He said after opening the road, the CDA will complete the remaining minor work such as lane marking within a week or so. Mr Farid, who recently took charge, said due to the Coivid-19 pandemic and weather issues the project faced some delay.

Last year, the CDA had awarded the contract of the project against Rs428 million - 19pc less than the estimated cost. However, later, the scope of the project was changed and its cost saw an increase of almost 10pc.

The CDA had the same day last year also awarded the contract for the expansion of Korang Bridge on Islamabad Expressway worth Rs628.5 million - 17pc below the rate. This project is to be completed in December this year. However, sources said, the pace of work indicated that it would not be completed before March next year.

The expressway is one of the busiest roads in Islamabad and witnesses traffic jams and congestion particularly on the section from Koral to G.T. Road.

The expressway is four-lane on each side from Faizabad to Koral but before Korang Bridge it turns into two lanes creating massive congestion there. However, it is believed that with the completion of the two projects, the issue of gridlock will be resolved to some extent.

However, an engineer of the civic agency said a long-term solution to the issue was the expansion of the entire expressway from Korang Bridge to G.T. Road.

The previous PML-N government had carried out an expansion of the road from Faizabad to Koral and planned to widen the highway from Koral to G.T. Road. In its last budget, the PML-N government had earmarked Rs7 billion for the project. However, when the PTI came to power in 2018, it decided to cancel the allocation. Later, it provided funds to the CDA for the Koran Bridge and PWD Underpass projects from the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP).

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2021

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