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Express road to airport in works

Guests attend the presentation of a proposed expressway from Phnom Penh city centre to the airport yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Guests attend the presentation of a proposed expressway from Phnom Penh city centre to the airport yesterday in Phnom Penh. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Express road to airport in works

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport yesterday announced the start of feasibility studies aimed at building an express elevated toll road that would extend from Phnom Penh’s city centre to the airport by 2021.

Public Works Minister Tram Iv Tek said yesterday that China’s Henan Provincial Communications Planning Survey and Design Institute (HPC) would conduct studies into the viability of three different options for building the road, construction on which would begin next year.

Option A involves building an elevated expressway over Russian Boulevard, the main artery between the airport and the city centre.

Option B would see the expressway built over rail lines just north of Russian Boulevard that run parallel to the road. Both plans would require an expressway of just over 8 kilometres.

Option C, Iv Tek continued, would start near the French Embassy and require 11 kilometres of road.

“The expressway in option A will cost around $362 million,” he said. “This option A is a favourite option among the others, because it’s easy to transport the construction materials to build it.”

“Through our discussions, we see that many officials prefer options A and B,” Iv Tek said, adding that the study needs to consider whether the new expressway would connect with current overpasses, or have just one on-ramp and one off-ramp.

The expressway is slated to have four lanes, and would be 17.5 metres wide. As a part of the study, HPC recently deployed pollsters to major intersections to ask drivers what toll they would be comfortable paying to use the new expressway.

“The speed to drive on this road would be 60 kilometres per hour, which is faster” than the present speed, Iv Tek explained. “Currently, we have to spend up to one hour getting from the city to the airport on congested roads.”

Du Zhan Jun, director of HPC, said that the Russian Boulevard option seemed to be the best, as it promised to also alleviate local traffic jams along its length.

“Option A can release congestion in the area of the Council of Ministers and the other intersections on Russian Boulevard,” he said.

Pheng Sovicheano, spokesman for the ministry, said yesterday that the current feasibility study “could last until the end of the year”.

“It’s a build-operate-transfer road with a 30-year contract, for which the Henan Institute needs to find a Chinese partner to invest in building it,” he said, adding that HPC needed to study the impacts of the planned construction.

In a separate meeting, Phnom Penh City Hall announced plans to alleviate congestion on the other end of the city by expanding the Kbal Thnal overpass.

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