Kathmandu, August 9
To ease the growing traffic congestion, the government has planned to widen the 1,028-kilometre-long East-West Highway - the lifeline of the country - into four lanes.
“We are looking into the possibilities of expanding the East-West Highway into a four-lane expressway, with an extra service lane in main cities, and diversions in places where expansion is not possible,” said Madhusudan Adhikari, secretary at Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transportation (MoPIT).
Considering the increasing congestion around the city areas, the ministry is also looking into developing overpasses and underpasses, Adhikari informed adding that the government has already initiated the process for preparing the detailed project report (DPR) of the East-West Expressway.
According to Adhikari, a ministerial team - including MoPIT Minister Raghubir Mahaseth, secretary and related officials - is scheduled to visit the eastern side of East-West Highway to inspect the existing bridge over the Koshi River on Sunday.
“As a new bridge needs to be built in line with the model of the expressway, the ministry has already asked the Department of Roads (DoR) to suggest the appropriate models for the same,” he added.
The ministry has asked the DoR to suggest whether it would be more feasible to build a bridge parallel to the East-West Railway or develop a road-rail bridge, meaning a bridge shared by railway and the expressway.
According to Adhikari, the government has planned to seek loans from Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank (WB) to upgrade the highway. The DoR has already completed the DPR study of some sections of the highway.
Last year, the government had signed a loan agreement of $200 million with ADB for expansion of 87-km-long Kamala to Kanchanpur section of the East-West Highway into a four-lane expressway. It has already finished the DPR of project.
Similarly, DoR has finished DPR of 110-km-long Narayangarh to Butwal section. As per a separate agreement with ADB, the government will be able to avail $180 million credit for Narayangarh to Butwal section and $20 million for improvement of 41-km-long Bhairahawa to Lumbini section.
The ‘Policies and Programmes' for current fiscal 2018-19, which was presented by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari earlier this year, has also mentioned that the East-West Highway would be widened into four lanes.