PLANS are being discussed to revamp two major highways linking Isa Town and Riffa, the GDN has learnt.
They include expanding December 16 Highway and Al Estiqlal Highway along with constructing a flyover at the junction of both roads.
Details of the project, which is planned for the coming years, were revealed to the GDN by Southern Municipal Council chairman Ahmed Al Ansari after several electricity pylons were removed from nearby both highways and replaced with underground electricity cables.
The government land on which the transmission towers were located for the last three decades have been officially transferred from the Electricity and Water Affairs Authority to the Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry.
Mr Al Ansari said part of the land will be used for the project while the rest will be allocated for other services.
“The removal of the pylons has helped push ahead with many stalled projects, not just the planned revamp to the highways but also other projects in Buhair,” he said.
“Preliminary work to build a car park with 320 spaces for visitors to Al Esteqlal Walkway has also begun.
“A new road that would allow motorists to exit straight onto the Al Estiqlal Highway, relieving traffic congestion next to Shaikhan Al Farsi Mosque in East Riffa is also planned.
“These two small projects are part of several stalled projects due to the pylons and now with freed space in Buhair and Hajiyat, major road expansions can happen over the next decade, smoothly and pending allocated budgets for each phase.”
The ministry’s assistant under-secretary for roads Huda Fakhroo also confirmed to the GDN that initial blueprints have been drawn up for the expansion of the two highways, but that the implementation would depend on budget allocation in the next few years.
“We have drawn up rough plans for what the new road network involving the December 16 and Al Estiqlal highways would look like in the future,” she said.
“Yes, key expansions are set to happen but they are subject to the availability of the necessary budget, and they will be done in phases over the upcoming years with us starting, hopefully, from next year’s budget.
“The project will also involve a tendering and assessment phase according to what would be given as financing.
“A new flyover will be built, but at the moment, on the designs, it is makeshift as we are studying possible locations and how to match it with traffic movement.”
The GDN reported in January of this year that Mr Al Ansari estimated an auction of unwanted pylons to scrap dealers could generate millions of dinars for the government.