President Mahinda Rajapaksa, accompanied by the Ambassador of Japan Nobuhito Hobo, yesterday declared open the first segment of the Outer Circular Highway (OCH) around the city of Colombo.
After opening the first segment of the OCH from Kottawa to Kaduwela the President drove the first bus on the 11-kilometer long, four-lane highway launching a highway express bus service.
Kottawa-Kaduwela segment of the OCH is located in the Colombo Metropolitan Region and passes through Colombo and Gampaha Districts. Sri Lanka's longest fly over spanning more than three kilometers is also located in this highway.
The new highway will significantly reduce the travel time between the two destinations from an hour to ten minutes.
The Kottawa-Kaduwela segment in Phase 1 of the project was constructed with the financial assistance from Japan at a cost of Rs. 27 billion.
The OCH runs around 20 km away from the city center of Colombo, connecting radial routes and has a total length of 29.2 kilometers.
The northern end of the highway is located at Kerawalapitiya on Colombo-Katunayake Expressway and the southern end is located at Kottawa on Colombo-Ratnapura-Wellawaya-Batticaloa road where Southern Expressway meets OCH.
It is developed as a 4-lane Highway with provision for future expansion to 6-lanes. The design speed of the Highway is 100 kmph.
The second stage, the 8.9 kilometer segment from Kaduwela to Kadawata will be vested in the ownership of the general public next year.
The final phase of the project will complete the 9.3 kilometer section from Kadawata to Kerawalapitiya connecting the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway to the Southern Expressway via the OCH. Thereafter it would become one expressway from Katunayake to Matara passing the Gampaha, Colombo, Kalutara and Galle Districts.
Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne, Ministers Susil Premajayantha, Dinesh Gunawardena, and Wimal Weerawansa, parliamentarians and senior government officials also participated in the occasion.