RAWALPINDI: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Friday inaugurated work on the Elevated Expressway to be built over Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Road from the Mall to Faizabad.
The chief minister unveiled plaque of the Rs 16 billion project at Flashman’s Chowk on the Mall near General Headquarters (GHQ) before going to the main campus of University of Arid Agriculture, Rawalpindi (UAAR), where the main function was arranged.
It’s learnt that the UAAR premises was chosen for the function on the recommendations of law-enforcement agencies, including police.
Also for the plaque-unveiling ceremony, the Chief Minister’s Secretariat was given two options – Flashman’s Chowk on the Mall and Shamsabad Public Park – for security reasons, and the former was picked.
For the chief minister’s visit, police threw a security blanket over the garrison city. Over 400 policemen kept guard on Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Road from the Mall to Faizabad throughout the day. Special police pickets also surfaced at Mareer Chowk, Liaquat Bagh Chowk and Committee Chowk to prevent any untoward incident.
Before the chief minister turned up at the UAAR, law-enforcers cordoned off the area. They made road users, especially those entering the university premises, undergo security checks like walkthrough gates and scanners.
The stretch of Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Road from Hamza Camp to Sixth Road was closed to traffic of all kinds. Police diverted vehicles from the artery to slip roads.
Traffic remained chocked on the city’s main roads, especially Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Road.
At the main function, a large number of PML-N leaders and workers welcomed the chief minister amid loud shouts for him and party chief Nawaz Sharif. Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, local MNAs and MPAs and senior government officials also showed up.
The city wore a festive look on the chief minister’s arrival. The PML-N decorated roads and public places with colourful banners, posters and party flags. The banners were inscribed with slogans of gratitude for Shahbaz Sharif for launching the Elevated Expressway project, which is meant to ease traffic load on Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Road.
Under the plan, Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) will construct the expressway under the supervision of Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) within the next one and a half years.
The expressway will run over Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Road from the Mall (Flashman’s Chowk) to Faizabad before turning to Islamabad Highway via Faizabad Interchange. The thruway will then divert from proposed Zero Point Interchange to Kashmir Highway before reaching Pak Secretariat either via Kashmir Highway, Constitution Avenue or Khayaban-i-Suharwardy.
The proposed expressway will have six lanes and four interchanges for it will be constructed at Mareer Chowk, Chandani Chowk, 6th Road and Shamsabad.
Once the expressway is opened to traffic, motorists will be able to cover a distance of around 25 kilometers in less than 10 to 15 minutes between the Mall and Faizabad.
The expressway will be completed in three phases – first from the Mall to Mareer Chowk, second Mareer Chowk to Chandni Chowk and third from Chandni Chowk to Faizabad. The road from Mareer Chowk to Chandni Chowk will be constructed first and then it will be connected with the Mall and Faizabad.
The RDA has set 36 months time frame for construction of the expressway patch between Mareer Chowk and Chandni Chowk and 46 months for the rest of the work.
Source: Daily Times