Arrangements have been taken to open the Kottawa to Pinnaduwa section of the expressway next month, enabling a motorist from Kottawa to reach Pinnaduwa in one hour. The High-Level Road from Kottawa to Colombo is being developed parallel to the expressway.
Construction of the other stage of the expressway from Galle to Matara has already commenced and it would be opened for the public later on.
The entire project will cost Rs 75 billion once the final stage from Pinnaduwa to Matara is completed. Total expenditure of the southern express way from Pinnaduwa to Kottawa is about Rs 60 billion.
Transportation is a vital element in the well-being and development of any economy. The Southern expressway will provide massive economic benefits to the country.
It will improve transport facilities for future development in the Southern Region. The highway will act as a catalyst in encouraging and attracting industries and services for the economic and social development of the region.
It will also promote inter-regional transport facilities by developing this road, considering it as a major component of the proposed expressway network.
The new expressway will reduce the time taken to travel between Colombo to Matara and Colombo to Galle. According to the Road Development Authority, this will save two hours of travel time from the previous time.
The expressway will have eight toll points in Kottawa, Kahathuduwa, Galanigama, Donangoda, Welipanna, KurundugahaHethakma, Baddegama and Pinnaduwa.
Initially there would be two lanes and the travel time to Pinnaduwa will be around one hour.
If a driver wants to stop halfway for refreshments he or she would have to move out of the expressway through an access point and rejoin the expressway later.
Light vehicles will be charged three rupees per kilometre. Heavy vehicles will also be allowed on the expressway and they will be charged nine rupees per kilometre.
Luxury buses will be allowed to travel on the southern highway and the bus toll will be less than Rs 350.
Motorcycles, bicycles, three-wheelers and tractors are prohibited from entering the southern expressway.
Payment counters in the entry points from Kottawa to Pinnaduwa are being constructed and it would provide employment for over 200 people. It is planned to deploy special teams of police, vehicle repair units, the fire brigade, as well as teams of doctors and nurses along the highway.
Construction on the highway began in 2006 at a cost of $ 600 million. The Asian Development Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency are providing financial assistance for the expressway project.
A significant number of people in the area who were evicted due to the construction of expressway have received compensation to reconstruct their houses.
The Southern Expressway is the first expressway in Sri Lanka and it is the longest expressway out of the proposed expressway network. It runs from Kottawa to Matara (126 km) and also includes Galle Fort Access road.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC) are the main funding agencies for this project. A section from Kottawa to Kurundugahahetekma (65 km) was undertaken by JBIC and the section from Kurundugahahetekma to Godagama, Matara (64.8 km) was undertaken by the ADB. Southern Expressway will be extended upto Hambanthota later. The Colombo outer circular express highway (also known as the outer circular highway, Colombo inter provincial Orbital Route or the Arthur C. Clarke Expressway), the 29km long outer circular road network will link the Colombo-Matara expressway and will provide an orbital beltway to bypass the Colombo city and help reduce traffic congestion.
In addition to the Peliyagoda and Katunayake inter changes, two other inter changes at Ja-Ela and Kerawalapitiya will be connected to the expressway to the outer circular road.
A sign board indicating a restaurant ahead
The cascades in the highway
RDA engineer Rukshan Rupasinghe explaining details
An inter section on the expressway Pictures by Thushara Fernando
The main entrance from Colombo in Makumbura, Pannipitiya Picture by Saliya Rupasinghe