One of the main sections of the new, multi-billion riyal Lusail Expressway opened to motorists yesterday, speeding up commutes to Katara and the Pearl-Qatar.
The launch of the Onaiza Interchange tunnel comes after more than four years of construction work on the 5.5km route, which will connect Lusail City with Dafna/West Bay.
The entire road should fully open to traffic by January 2018, Qatar’s public works authority said.
The tunnel provide free flow traffic from The Pearl & north areas to WestBay in south without stopping at traffic light #Ashghal #Qatar pic.twitter.com/fpS37Ch8Tu
— هيئة الأشغال العامة (@AshghalQatar) April 1, 2017
So far, three lanes in each direction are open on the 630m-long tunnel, which bypasses the traffic lights in front of the former Doha Exhibition Center.
Construction continues on the remainder of the intersection, which eventually will have an additional lane in each direction.
The junction will also include a flyover that will connect Onaiza St. with Katara, the St. Regis, the InterContinental hotel and Al Gassar Resort.
The tunnel has been designed with Qatar’s fishing and pearl-diving heritage in mind.
The patterns on the tunnel walls resemble a fishing net and ripples of a diver underwater, Ashghal said in a statement.
Onaiza interchange, which Ashghal said has opened “four months ahead of schedule,” is one of three multi-level intersections on the new highway.
The public works authority has also outlined a timeline for the opening of the remainder of the route in nine months’ time.
The main flyover at West Bay interchange, which Ashghal previously called Al Wahda interchange, will open this June.
Meanwhile, work continues on the rest of the three-level junction to create a non-stop route between West Bay and Katara, and beyond.
Then in September, two tunnels at the Pearl interchange will open, which should mean quicker journeys between the island and the new expressway.
This should come as a welcome relief to Pearl commuters. Since the main works started to the highway in late 2012, the road to the island has been beset by diversions and heavy congestion, particularly at peak hours.
After the initial opening, further works will continue at this junction. It will eventually link Legtaifiya (West Bay) Lagoon with Lagoona Mall, Zig-Zag residential towers and the hotels in the area.
North of Lagoona, the North and South Canal Crossings will also fully open.
They part-opened last November, providing two lanes in each direction. Once complete, the 200m-long North crossing will have six lanes in each direction and will link up with Lusail City and beyond.
The South crossing is 125m long and will have eight lanes in each direction. Both will have waterfalls on the side, Ashghal said.
When fully complete, the QR6 billion expressway should provide a quick route between Doha’s main business district of Dafna/West Bay and the under-construction Lusail City.
Four lanes in each direction, plus adjacent service roads, should more than double the capacity of the old route — from 3,600 vehicles an hour to 8,000 per hour, Ashghal said.
In addition, there will be 6.5km of cycle routes and pathways for pedestrians.
The authority’s latest update on progress on the expressway does not mention when the Al Wahda arches, by the West Bay interchange, are expected to be completed.
These two arcs, which dominate the skyline in the area, were originally planned to link with a hanging pod that was supposed to be a visitors’ center.
However, a number of sources have said plans for the center have since been scrapped. Previously, the completion date for the structure was last June.
Will the new Onaiza tunnel help your commute? Thoughts?