The last section of the Al Salam Street upgrade in the capital includes the tunnel, which opened to traffic. Shaikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nayhan, National Security Advisor and Vice-Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, inaugurated the 4.2 kilometer tunnel.
“We expect this opening will make a big difference to traffic congestion in the city, and will greatly reduce travel times,” Abdulla Saeed Al Shamsi, executive director of infrastructure and municipal assets at the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City, said.
The tunnel begins on Dalma Street, and allows motorists to travel uninterrupted to the Corniche area and Mina Port. It also includes a 2.4-kilometre enclosed section.
The speed limit at the entrance of the tunnel, unofficially known as Main Tunnel, is a maximum of 60 kilometers per hour, and 80 kilometers per hour in certain sections.
“At present, about 7,000 vehicles travel through Salam Street during the peak hours between 7am and 9am, and 3pm and 5pm. We expect that about 20 per cent of this traffic will now use the tunnel,” said Majid Al Kthairy, head of traffic services at the municipality. However, not all kinds of vehicles can travel through the tunnel. “Bicycles, pedestrians, trucks weighing more than 2.5 tons or above 5.5 meters in height, as well as vehicles carrying gas cylinders and hazardous materials, are not allowed into the tunnel,” he added.
The tunnel has four lanes each in both the outbound and inbound directions. At the end of the tunnel, it branches into five lanes — two lead towards the Abu Dhabi Corniche, and three lanes lead to Mina Port.
The tunnel is also equipped with advanced incident detection and fire control systems, as well as two control rooms. In addition, the enclosed section has emergency U-turns and emergency telephones.
The tunnel and its surface roads, which cost about Dh3.1 billion to construct and upgrade, form the most expensive section of the Al Salam Street project.
“The section was the most time-consuming part of the project, and took more than 32 million work hours to complete. This is because it involved work on the biggest tunnel along Al Salam Street, as well as surface streets with seven signalized intersections,” Al Kthairy explained.
In total, the Al Salam Street upgrade, which began in October 2007, cost about Dh5billion.
Main Tunnel on Al Salam Street tunnel is understood to be one of the longest in the Middle East that is also equipped with advanced traffic control systems. It is 4.2 kilometers.