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Work on Margalla Avenue likely to start in 6 months

Islamabad : After a long pause, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has resumed work on the construction of much needed ‘Margalla Avenue’, around 33.5 km long dual carriageway, which will link the Grand Trunk (GT) Road near ‘Nicholson Minar’ with the ‘Murree Expressway’, skirting the Margalla hills.

The work on the ‘Margalla Avenue’ was launched back in June 2012, almost 9 years ago, but it ran into snags because of alignment and land possession issues as large chunks of land were in adverse possession at the time.

The Phase-I of the Margalla Avenue was 10.39 km, linking GT Road to sector D-12 for a total cost of around Rs1.44 billion with a completion time set as 12 months.

However, work was abandoned after only earth work, base and sub-base courses were completed up to only 6.8 km as well as one bridge on the railway track and nine culverts. This also led to a financial dispute between the CDA and the contractor engaged for the project. The member FA/Environment, Shakeel Jazeb, who also is the spokesperson for the Authority, while talking to ‘The News’ said has been recently settled amicably.

This time the CDA has awarded the contract to the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) for the second phase of the project that is from sector D-12 up to Murree road/Murree Expressway, measuring 23 km.

The tentative cost of this second phase of Margalla Avenue is Rs20,000 million and the mode of financing is public-private partnership under PSDP Plus programme and the completion time has been set as two years (24 months).

The spokesperson for the Authority told ‘The News’ that the Engineer-in-Chief (E-in-C) Branch in the General Headquarters (GHQ) has already been requested to prepare feasibility, detailed engineering, geometric and structural design of project for Package-II as is mentioned in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the CDA and the E-in-C in GHQ at a cost of Rs63 million.

Once completed, the Margalla Avenue will provide a vitally important second access to the federal capital, especially for those travelling from KP/Northern Areas, Zone-II of Islamabad beyond GT Road and from the northern Punjab areas. It will also be a lot of comfort for the travelers from these areas intending to go to Murree and the areas beyond.

At present, there is only one access point, which is the ‘Srinagar Highway’ (formerly Kashmir Highway) which despite being a five-lane-a-side highway get clogged at times because of ever increasing traffic load, especially heavy traffic.

The Margalla Avenue will also facilitate new sectors like C-14, C-15 and C-16 along the Margalla Hills. In addition, it will help ease traffic load especially passing the congested Bhara Kahu, which already has become a serious bottleneck for traffic up and down Murree hills, the CDA Spokesperson said.

He said that the Margalla Avenue would be a fenced road, which would also help preserve natural beauty, fauna and flora of Margalla hills.