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Tue 29 May 2007 06:32 PM

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Dubai to spend $12bn on roads

The emirate's transport authority is to build 500km of roads in an effort to tackle traffic problems.

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) plans to spend $12 billion on upgrading the emirate’s road network, its chairman said today.

Speaking at a conference in Dubai, HE Mattar Al Tayer said the RTA intends to build 500 kilometres of new roads. It will also build 95 interchanges, nine ring roads and increase the number of lanes crossing the creek in an effort to tackle Dubai's escalating traffic problems.

“The RTA has developed and is implementing a comprehensive strategic transportation plan which covers Dubai mobility needs up to the year 2020," he told delegates.

Al Tayer said the number of lanes going over the creek that divides Dubai would increase from 19 last year to 47 by 2008, and then to 100 by 2020.

The creek is a major bottleneck for motorists: the limited number of lanes on the two main bridges often lead to huge tailbacks.

Dubai recently opened a third bridge, the Business Bay Bridge, to try to ease traffic flow on the Maktoum and Garhoud bridges further down the creek, and has plans for build more bridges in the future.

Al Tayer also said in order to reduce congestion, communities need to be designed in a way that decreases automobile dependence, not increases it.

The creation of a livable city poses a significant challenge since land use planning does not support sustainability, Al Tayer said.

Dubai's population is forecast to increase from 1.3 million in 2005 to around 5.3 million by 2020, according to the RTA, pointing to the rapid population growth is a major factor contributing to traffic congestion.

Improving road safety was another way the authority plans to tackle congestion, Al Tayer said.

The RTA will construct 17 pedestrian bridges at an estimated cost of AED 50 million ($13.6 million), he added, in addition to separate pedestrian crossings at the 42 planned metro stations.

Dubai’s accident fatality rate is around 20 per 100,000, compared to six in countries such as the UK and Sweden. The RTA stated that 16% of congestion is related to traffic incidents.

"RTA's plan of action is to ensure quick clearance of incidents and provision of intelligent transportation systems to alert and divert traffic away from locations of such incidents and accident spots," Al Tayer said.

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