Islamabad Expressway Expansion from Gulberg to Rawat
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Islamabad Expressway connects more than a quarter million people living in Zone-V, which includes housing societies like PWD, Bahria Town, Police Foundation, Korang Town, Soan Gardens, Naval Anchorage, DHA-II and many more, to their schools, offices, and businesses in Islamabad.
Due to rapidly increasing traffic congestion, Islamabad Expressway was set to be made signal-free from Zero Point to Rawat, while also expanding the existing 2 lanes to 5 on each side of the last stretch of the highway, and work began in 2015. Construction on an already extremely busy highway prone to severe traffic jams only meant more and more congestion. But commuters were hopeful of getting some relief eventually and held their breaths.
The first phase of the project included upgrading the highway from Zero Point to Faizabad, which took well over a year and a half, causing severe traffic jams on a daily basis. It is worth noting that heavy traffic uses the same highway as there is no bypass for the twin cities. The second phase included the main stretch from Faizabad to Koral Chowk (formerly also Airport Chowk). There were traffic signals in this patch at Sohan, Khanna Pul and Koral Chowk which had to be removed and completely new interchanges were to be built at Sohan and Koral Chowk. The existing interchange at Khanna was to be torn down and built again. Koral Interchange opened for traffic in March 2017 while Sohan Interchange was opened in Jan 2018. The one at Khanna however, has seen the worst progress so far, and was opened on 23rd March 2019.
The worst part, however, is yet to come. The stretch of highway mentioned before already consisted of 5 lanes and was never really a problem for daily commuters. The patch from Koral Chowk to Rawat, however, is a two-lane road which connects commuters to a myriad of housing societies. This creates a horrendous bottleneck and is not only used by the hundreds of thousands of residents living in those housing societies, but also by a multitude of trucks and other heavy traffic that needs to access the GT Road.
It is routine for people living in Zone-V to be stuck in traffic for a couple of hours every single day, and there seems to be no end to it. All over Pakistan, there are bypasses for heavy traffic in order to accommodate the residents of those localities, and heavy traffic cannot enter cities until after 11 PM. But unfortunately, for residents of Zone-V, there seems to be no relief and the concerned authorities have turned a blind eye to this horrible injustice. Not only does this increase commute times by 2-3 times, it also prevents ambulances from reaching patients/hospitals.
Moreover, there is no check and balance on the fitness of the heavy traffic that occupies this highway. Trucks break down on almost a DAILY basis which makes it even worse and forces the traffic of five lanes into just ONE! And on the off chance that no trucks break down, they proceed to occupy all of the two lanes, and even the hard shoulder and keep moving at a snail's pace, while residents of the area, who have actually spent millions to buy houses/land over there are stuck behind them at the mercy of unruly truck drivers.
In result of a complaint lodged on the Pakistan Citizen Portal regarding the entire issue, the administration took notice and it was announced that no heavy traffic would be allowed to enter the highway from 7-9 AM and 5-7 PM. However, the traffic management was extremely poor at first, and the heavy traffic that would enter the highway at 4:59 PM, for example, would be allowed onto it and would still travel on it despite the ban. As of now, this soft ban is being totally ignored and heavy traffic passes through the highway at whatever time pleases them, in blatant disregard of their time regulation. Islamabad Traffic Police has absolutely failed in obeying the orders and managing the traffic in peak hours.
Islamabad Expressway is not only the lone route for hundreds of thousands of citizens of Islamabad but also one of the two major entrances of the capital city. Its condition is no longer fit for heavy traffic and must be expanded to 5 lanes immediately and until completion, heavy traffic must not be allowed to enter the highway from 6AM-11PM.
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