Abu Dhabi: Over the next few days, the last remaining closed sections of Al Salam Street in the capital are expected to be opened to vehicular traffic, municipal officials said on Monday.
These sections include a nearly four-kilometre, two-way tunnel stretching from Dalma Street to the Abu Dhabi Corniche and Mina Port, as well as a signalised intersection on Mina Street.
“Construction works on the tunnel have been completed, and when opened, motorists can travel from Shaikh Zayed Bridge to the Corniche in 10 minutes without having to stop at any traffic lights,” Majed Al Kthairy, head of traffic services at the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City, told Gulf News. Though the exact date of opening the tunnel has not been given.
Al Salam Street was closed down in 2008 to facilitate the Dh5 billion upgrade project. When the project was announced, municipal authorities said the upgrade would double the previous capacity of the road to 12,000 vehicles per hour in both directions and enable motorists to travel from Shaikh Zayed Bridge to the Corniche in 10 minutes.
As construction works were completed, the thoroughfare was opened up in sections, with three other underpasses opened in 2010 and all surface roads made accessible in 2011. This year has also seen the greening of large sections of the expressway.
With regard to the last tunnel to be opened, Al Kthairy said motorists can enter it at Dalma Street near the Sea Palace intersection.
An exit from the tunnel leads to Hazza Bin Zayed Street. At the end, two lanes open up to the Corniche Road and three lanes lead to Mina Port.
“Like the rest of Al Salam Street, the tunnel is equipped with the latest traffic systems. For example, it has video vehicle detection to monitor how many vehicles are travelling through it. In addition, an advanced video incident detection camera can notify traffic authorities of any incident in the tunnel within a maximum timespan of 20 seconds,” Al Kthairy said.
A 2.2-kilometre portion of the tunnel is enclosed, and this section has ventilation and fire alarm systems, along with designated emergency exits.
“We believe this is the first tunnel of such length and equipped with such advanced systems in the entire Middle East,” the official added.
When it is opened at least 5,000 vehicles are expected to use the tunnel in the outbound direction from Abu Dhabi City.
“Motorists may even change their daily routes to make use of the urban expressway which minimises travel time, and we would have a better idea of how often the tunnel is being used a week after its opening,” Al Kthairy added.