New Kelani Bridge project to be implemented under Japanese assistance

JICA loan of Yen 35 billion


Upali Hewage (extreme left) addressing the media

An impression of the completed bridge

Envisaged road network

By Steve A. Morrell

Japan’s loan assistance programme for the construction of the new Kelani Bridge under the Official Development Assistance (ODA) scheme was approved in 2014. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) loan amounts to Japanese Yen 35 billion.

The objective of the proposed project is to mitigate and disperse traffic congestion by constructing a new bridge and elevated access road across the Kelani river.

Deputy Team Leader, New Bridge Construction Project Over the Kelani River, Upali Hewage, said the proposed elevated bridge project will make a significant difference to the flow of traffic into the city of Colombo. Simultaneously, the road network sequential to the new bridge construction would also ease the outflow of vehicular traffic movement from the city as well.

The ODA loan programme facilitated by the Government of Japan was on easy payment terms with an allied grace period for repayment, he told a news conference in Colombo last week.

However, before construction could commence, the Road Development Authority (RDA) said there were intrinsic details that have to be first addressed for solution, including the resettlement of families that would be displaced as a result of the envisaged construction.

Of the 460 families concerned, 288 have already been resettled, with 42 families accepting self–relocation, while 41 business ventures were compensated, he said.

Under land acquisition, 967 lots were acquired in an extent of 12.9 hectares.

With the opening of Colombo-Katunayake Expressway connecting Colombo to the Bandaranaike International Airport, traffic intensified to and fro. With the considerable increase in traffic entering Colombo city, the existing Kelani Bridge is unable to cope with the intensity of traffic, Hewage explained.

"The development of Colombo City and the Colombo Port would further aggravate an already frustrating situation", he said.

The RDA has decided to implement the approved project with an elevated construction of the new bridge with a six lane traffic flow with related interchanges.

Shifting the 220 KV and 132 KV transmission lines will be handled by the CEB. The proposed solution was relaying such power lines through an underground cable network to ensure power transmission would be continued and not disrupted. The construction envisaged a 18 month timeframe at cost of around Rs. 12. 5 billion, he said.

Inherent benefits would be translated to ensure high mobility links connecting intercity roads, and more importantly, assisting economic development in the transport sector.

Sri Lanka would be one of few countries with extra-dosed bridge construction, which would undoubtedly result in enhanced tourist attraction. The Baseline Road elevated road construction would be linked to the road network connecting the Kelani Bridge to intercity roads. Resultant smooth flow of traffic would complement transit time for quick access of destinations.

The Government of Sri Lanka will also contribute Rs. 6 billion for the proposed project. The overall pay back period would be 20 to 45 years.

With construction preliminaries now off the ground, the target for completion of the entire project would be 2020.

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