Abu Dhabi: In a bid to accommodate heavier traffic and despite having undergone an approximate five-year overhaul, Shaikh Zayed Street is still witnessing major delays causing Abu Dhabi residents to become increasingly frustrated.
The freeway which was closed down in 2008 and reopened in late 2012 doubled its previous vehicle capacity to 12,000 cars per hour in both directions. Municipal authorities had also revealed that it would only take motorists about 10 minutes to get to the Corniche from Shaikh Zayed bridge.
Despite this, residents are still finding themselves caught in long traffic queues, specifically during rush hours.
“Today, at around 8am, it took me half an hour from Shaikh Zayed bridge to get to the Corniche. I took Shaikh Zayed Road because I thought it would be a lot easier than taking other streets like Al Khaleej Al Arabi street which is usually also congested during this time. So what is the use of the upgrade if it didn’t reduce traffic or make the other roads easier to use? Plus, there were no visible accidents, so why is there such slow-moving traffic?” said 31-year-old Anwar Hussain, who lives in Abu Dhabi’s Muroor area.
“I don’t even make that trip every day and I can’t imagine what it is like for people who have to get to work inside the city,” he added.
Those driving into the city from Dubai in the morning have also faced similar issues around Shaikh Zayed bridge, citing that construction work is to blame for these delays.
“Any construction work before the bridge that might cause a hindrance to traffic flow seems to affect the area after it. I’ve started to notice that the construction work is being done farther into the city and this has recently been causing around a 20-minute wait for me at least,” said 28-year-old American expat and media executive Kinana Sarrage.
Due to this, people are beginning to seek alternative routes or are starting to avoid making unnecessary trips that may cause them to get stuck in traffic.
“I usually see that traffic becomes better on Shaikh Zayed Street by 9.30am or so. Even if I have early appointments inside the city, I try to avoid that road and opt for Al Khaleej Al Arabi street or one of the other main roads,” she told Gulf News.
The problem is also being faced by those living in the city who use Shaikh Zayed Street to commute to work. In fact, more of the city’s residents are trying to live in areas closer to their place of employment for the sole purpose of avoiding traffic despite the high rents in those areas.
Abu Dhabi Police have encouraged this behaviour, adding that it is healthier from a psychological perspective as traffic congestion can be a major cause of stress for drivers.