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Sri Lanka reviews rail/road options

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SRI LANKA is considering channelling some tsunami reconstruction money into the redesign of its fi rst motorway, even though the project is already on site.

Government officials indicated that they could use some of the cash from international fi nancial institutions to redesign the 128km road route as a road/ rail corridor.

The Ministry of Transport (MoT) is keen to take the railway, heavily hit by the tsunami, away from the sea.

British consultant Halcrow is client's representative on phase one of the project which will connect the capital Colombo to the southern port of Matara.

Finroad is the project manager and Kumagai Gumi is the contractor.

The 54km, ú46M first phase of the four-lane 128km highway between Colombo and Matara is two years into construction with sub-base about to be laid.

MoT offi cials want the government's reconstruction task to sanction replacing two carriageways with a two line railway along the route of the scheme. This would allow the Ministry to upgrade the existing A2 coast road to four or six lane highway.

Project engineers questioned the decision. 'Talk of upgrading the A2 is absurd, ' said one. 'We are already building a road here.

The government should look again at its priorities.' Another believed it was too late to change the current road scheme. 'I don't even think it's technically possible, ' he added.

The road cuts through mountains and already has cuttings up to 40m to 50m deep. These would have to be deepened to accommodate the gentler rail gradients.

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