Islamabad: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) is all set to launch the project to improve the existing Garden Avenue into a dual carriageway as well as resume work on the stalled Kashmir Expressway project during the current fiscal year.

Sources in the CDA told ‘The News’ that physical work on the project to dualise the existing single Garden Avenue starting from the I-8 Intersection on the Islamabad Highway to Murree Highway near Best Western Hotel will be launched by January 2010.

The road snakes through the National Park Area skirting around National History Museum, Lok Virsa at the foothill of Shakarparian and eventually joins the Murree Highway after crossing the Islamabad Sports Complex. “There are some more very important institutions and facilities coming up in this area and turning the Garden Avenue into a dual carriageway will go a long way in meeting the future traffic demands,” the sources said.

The commuters getting off the 7th Avenue and heading towards Rawalpindi or the other way round are still using the Garden Avenue, as an alternate route. At present Garden Avenue from I-8 intersection to the Chand-Tara Chowk is in good condition. However, the portion from the 7th Avenue turning right up to the Murree Highway on the flank of Best Western Hotel is a bumpy ride strewn with pits, ditches, speed breakers and other more clear signs of wear and tear as a result of diversion of all sorts of traffic when the Murree Highway was being widened a few years back.

CDA spokesman Syed Mustafain Kazmi when contacted told ‘The News’ that physical work on the project is likely to start in the third quarter of the current fiscal year. “It would be an 18-month project, to be undertaken by the CDA out of its own resources. There would also be an offshoot of this project which will head towards the Murree Highway straight from the existing 7th Avenue turning on the Garden Avenue. Once both these links to the Murree Highway are completed and opened for traffic, these will take off a lot of load from Islamabad Highway as well as provide an alternative route to those heading to Islamabad Airport,” he added

He said that the second bigger project is expansion of Kashmir Highway and turn it into a five-lane each side Expressway involving a cost of Rs2.2 billion and it will be completed within 24 months. This project is a public sector development project (PSDP) with a 50 per cent funding by the government, which was actually to be launched in 2008. However, it ran into snags because of insufficient funding by the government during the fiscal year 2009-10 budget, the work on the project was put on a halt.

He said the government allocated Rs300 million for the Kashmir Expressway project in the 2009-2010 budget. “However, now there are some more funds available with the CDA, which actually were allocated for some other projects and are still lying unused. So, the authority is making a request to the government to divert those funds to the Kashmir Expressway project. If that is done, it would certainly help launch and execute this important project at an early date,” he added.

In the first phase existing Kashmir Highway would be turned into a five-lane each side Expressway from Golra Morr Toll Plaza to the 9th Avenue junction.

“The short sightedness of the planners who decided to have traffic signals at the Kashmir Highway-9th Avenue intersection when the 9th Avenue was being designed and constructed has clearly created a big hurdle in way of executing the work of Kashmir Expressway now, as a fly-over at this juncture is likely to be the only answer to the future demands of traffic flow from this point. With the Zero Point Inter-change likely to be completed by the end of next year, it would only be proper to have an inter-change or at least a well-designed flyover at this point to maintain smooth flow of traffic on the Kashmir Expressway,” sources in the CDA told ‘The News’.

Source: The News