Meet the man moving Dubai traffic forwards

Mattar Al Tayer, deputy director general of Dubai Municipality, talks to Construction Week about how the government plans to address the questions on everyone’s mind: What can be done to improve traffic congestion in Dubai? And will even new infrastructure support the city’s burgeoning population?

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By  Sean Cronin Published  October 9, 2005

|~|vis200.gif|~|Mattar Al Tayer: There is a need for two parallel roads to be constructed between Sheikh Zayed Road and Al Khalil Road; this will add an extra 12 lanes.|~|How has road spending by Dubai Municipality increased over recent years, and what is being budgeted going forward?

Over the past decade road spending has increased almost tenfold. Spending on roads in 1995 was around US $54.4 million (AED200 million) and now it is over $545 million (AED2 billion); this may go up further in the coming year. The current figure is over 40% of the Dubai Municipality budget.

How do you go about planning for new roads in a city that is expanding at such a phenomenal rate?

A proactive approach is adopted in preparing transportation improvement plans.

Based on the past traffic and socio-economic trends, and
the anticipated growth of the city, a transportation vision for the future (usually 20 years from now) is established that best serves and meets community goals and objectives.
Vital information from all stakeholders, pertaining to the planned developments in the Emirate, is accounted for in quantifying expected growth in traffic on Dubai Roads.

Accordingly, highway network improvement plans are drafted in stages. Such studies use highly sophisticated software tools and immense data collection; they are usually done once every 15 to 20 years.

But for Dubai this has been done three times since 1990 because of the unprecedented growth witnessed over the
last decade.

Currently Dubai Municipality is in the process of preparing new transportation plans for the coming 20 years.

How accurately are you able to predict future traffic movement and congestion trends?

The transportation models that have been developed to predict traffic flows are 85 to 90% accurate, which is sufficient to predict the number of lanes required on highways, bridges and tunnels.

Traffic problems have been repeatedly identified as being one of the potentially inhibiting factors affecting the growth of Dubai. Is this why so many resources are now being pumped into improving the road network?

The increase in traffic is the main cause of traffic snarls and congestion on Dubai Roads.

The massive recent growth in the number of cars and the population has dictated the need to update our transportation plans and increase spending accordingly.
The total number of registered vehicles — which was around 350 000 in 2000 — now stands at almost 500 000. This high rate of growth — almost 9% annually — coupled with similar increases in population and land use changes, has warranted an increase in spending on highway infrastructure.

Would double-decking large sections of Sheikh Zayed Road solve some of the traffic congestion in this area?

At present Sheikh Zayed Road is the main spine serving the adjoining developments and the double-decking of it is currently being studied.

However, in the meantime, to serve the adjoining developments, Dubai Municipality has identified a need for two parallel roads to be built between Sheikh Zayed Road and Al Khalil Road, which will provide an extra 12 lanes in
total. These two roads will pass through the industrial
areas and all the new developments in the Jebel
Ali area.

What significant road packages will be tendered this year?

Besides improving existing interchanges along Sheikh Zayed Road, the most important ones that will be tendered in the coming year include: Improvement to Interchanges one, six and seven along Sheikh Zayed Road and construction of an entirely new interchange; Double-decking of Doha Street from Interchange one to Bukidra Interchange, to serve Burj Dubai and Dubai Financial Centre; Construction of some starting portions of east and west parallel roads and bridges along it;
Widening of Emirates Road and construction of interchanges at selected locations;Construction of the new Garhoud Bridge;
Widening of Al Ittihad Road and improvement of all interchanges along the road; Widening of Jebel Ali — Lahbab Road and upgrading of new roundabouts along it; Widening of Al Awir road; connecting Dubai by-pass road to Abu Dhabi and widening of existing sections from two to four lanes in each direction; Construction of an interchange at Mirdif.
Besides the above, roads will be also be constructed in residential areas of Barsha, Oud Al Muteena, Port Saeed, Al Qusais and Al Quoz.

Some recent contracts have been re-tendered. Is there a concern that contractors are currently over-pricing on their tenders?

One of the reasons could be over-pricing, but such instances are rare and negligible when accounted against total value and number of projects that are re-tendered.

Is there enough local road contracting capacity in Dubai?

Tenders for multi-million dirham projects are quoted by local companies, and that offers enough proof of the availability of adequate local resources to quote for works that demand even highly skilled and professional expertise.

Are there any more plans, other than those already announced, to increase the number of bridges or pedestrian underpasses on Dubai roads?

Yes. There are definitely plans to provide more safe crossings for pedestrians in the coming years. Currently, studies are underway to short list and prioritise candidate locations for projects over the next two years. ||**||

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