Rs30 bn R3 project: Merger plan of ring road traffic into motorways, federal capital left undecided

Tariq Butt
Thursday, Jan 20, 2022

ISLAMABAD: A key element of the proposed Rawalpindi Ring Road (R3) – the merger of its traffic into the Lahore-Islamabad Motorway (M-2) and its further flow towards other highways and motorways falling under the jurisdiction of the National Highway Authority (NHA) and Capital Development Authority (CDA) -- has been left undecided, It emerges from official documents.

Experts now expect perpetual traffic congestion and clogging at the Thalian interchange of the Lahore-Islamabad motorway (M-2) because of its use by thousands of vehicles in the absence of a merger plan. Besides, the M-2 will be immensely over-crowded and may not be able to cater to the huge rush of every kind of vehicular traffic. According to an official estimate, nearly 10,000 trucks and trailers will use the 38.3km R3.

Documents available with The News show that a three-member committee formed by the Central Working Development Party (CDWP), has informed the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) that preparation of a detailed merger plan has been put on hold owing to the urgency of the project.

The document says that it deliberated upon different scenarios at length to ascertain the likely detailed merger plan from Thalian (M-2) onwards. As per the consultant, National Engineering Services Pakistan (Nespak) appointed by the RDA, it has been agreed that a network modelling on the ‘Visum Model’ may be utilized to determine the traffic flow on various NHA roads connecting the M-1 and M-2, the forum said in its report submitted to the ECNEC.

The committee headed by the Additional Secretary, Ministry of Communications, and comprising Member, Planning, NHA, Rawalpindi Commissioner/project director of R3, and Member, Engineering, CDA, had been tasked to finalize the merger plan.

It said that the detailed study required additional scope of work in the Nespak contract as well as a time period of about two months to complete the assignment. Owing to the urgency of the R3 project, which is already delayed, it was unanimously recommended by the committee to forward the project proposal to the planning division with certain recommendations.

It recommended that the proposed project may be processed by ECNEC as per the plan of the RDA. However, any addition of the infrastructure associated/resulting due to the traffic merger will be addressed subsequently and presented to the CDWP accordingly.

Nespak stated in the meeting that as per the data set provided by M/s MORE, which is the concessionaire of the motorway for collection of toll tax and its maintenance, the addition of traffic on the R3 at Thallian maintains the level of service, which is the minimum requirement for a motorway to operate. The committee said that the subsequent increase in traffic due to the growth rate will be ascertained by the consultant in the additional scope of work and will reveal the upgradation of the M-2 and other associated networks subsequently.