By Conrad Egbert
Plans to slice the East and West Parallel Roads through the Springs and Meadows have been met with defiance by local homeowners. Conrad Egbert reports on how the residents committee is proposing an alternative route for the East Parallel scheme to lessen the impact on 6,000 families.
When the new owners of properties within Emaar's Meadows and Springs developments first caught wind of plans for a new highway to be built through their communities back in late 2004, it provoked uproar.
Although Emaar has never officially confirmed the road plan, or spelt out what it will mean for homeowners, drawings compiled by Parsons De Leuw Cather Overseas and seen by Construction Week clearly indicate that the proposed six-lane route - which is part of the Roads and Transport Authority's (RTA) East and West Parallel Road scheme - will cut through both communities.
The two roads, which will run from Zabeel to Jebel Ali, and will be roughly parallel to Sheikh Zayed Road, will not only affect the Meadows and Springs, but will also impact Nakheel's The Gardens community, as
reported last week. And in a bid to avert the proposed highway, the Steering Committee of the Meadows & Springs Residents Group has come up with an alternative route.
The plan, which the group is hoping will be taken on board by the RTA, concerns a proposed modification to the East Parallel Road in the vicinity of the Meadows and Springs.
While outlining how both the East and West Parallel roads affect all 6,000 households in the area, the proposed plan mainly focuses on the part of the road that is designed to replace Springs Drive - a private driveway and current transport backbone of the communities, which is designed for local traffic and signposted at 40km/hr, complete with small roundabouts and speed bumps to encourage slower speeds within the residential areas.
This controlled thoroughfare allows for interaction between either sides of the corridor, and was not designed for through traffic between Sharjah and Jebel Ali.
The East Parallel Road will sever the community in half: community centres, children's play areas, parks, community swimming pools, shops and ornamental lakes that are all interlinked with paved walkways will be split across either side of the highway.
Martin Seward-Case, Steering Committee chairperson, said: "We understand that the Parallel Road plan is a necessary part of the wider scheme of relieving traffic congestion in Dubai and we clearly support further development of the road network and infrastructure.
"But all we ask is for the RTA and Emaar to try and look into alternative routes that will not have a negative impact on residents. We are fortunate that the Dubai authorities are serious about ongoing improvement to the infrastructure that we freely use. But we should also remind ourselves of who is funding this significant investment into Dubai's infrastructure and our quality of life."
The group has suggested that instead of the East Parallel Road replacing Springs Drive (see picture 1), it should be diverted from the entrance of the drive to an available corridor just outside the community (see picture 2).
The group also suggests that Springs Drive could be connected to the Parallel Road scheme but would remain in its current state with warning signs at either end deterring traffic from entering the slower residential zone and encouraging use of the higher speed bypass.
Residents have voiced their concerns about the new road project, which have included issues of safety for their children, noise and air pollution, falling property values, and that the development was sold as a ‘gated residential community', not one with a highway running through the middle of it.
"The original purchase documents for these villas did not include the fact that a six-lane highway would be constructed against their boundary walls," added Seward-Case.
"While some development could reasonably be expected outside of Meadows 1 and 2, the development of a road with the expected capacity in the immediate proximity of their residences could be considered as excessive.
"As a minimum, it is hoped that the RTA will reduce the actual level of the road as far as possible and introduce noise mitigating measures along the full length of the Meadows 1 and 2 boundary with the West Parallel Road. Regardless of this, it is expected that many residents along this boundary will still be inclined to seek compensation," he added.
"Of particular concern and where compensation becomes difficult to avoid supporting, is the corner of Meadows 1, closest to Emirates Golf Club. At this point a grade-separated intersection is required to address the high volume of traffic feeding from Sheikh Zayed Interchange Five.
"The West Parallel Road/Interchange Five intersection will rise above the level of the boundary walls of several luxury villas creating the opportunity for passing traffic to publicly view the back gardens and upstairs bedrooms of these villas. Compensation should thus be supported for the loss in value to these villas - all clearly losing the privacy of their backyards," concluded Seward-Case.
The development of Springs Drive into a six-lane highway is understood to be moving into the detailed design stage at the moment and is believed to be going out to tender in the summer.
Parsons De Leuw Cather Overseas, Emaar and the RTA were unavailable for comment.
It is unfortunate that Emaar, who claim to be the region's biggest developer and pioneer in the region are not able to deliver the full promise to its customers. Emaar does have a significant share holding by Govt of Dubai which should give it the leverage to influence RTA's decisions. The parallel roads via Springs Drive will be disastour and significantly impact the confidence of overseas customers and provide negative publicity to the Emirate. The government should intervene and re-route the road from Springs Drive. The alternative plan shown in your magazine that runs parallel to the Springs Drive and Al Khail Road makes perfect alternative. Lets hope that some one from Govt of Dubai intervens to make it a logical decision and not RTA's 'we can do what we want' decision!!!!