By Fahad Al Ghadani — MUSCAT: March 5 – Improved road connectivity between Muscat and the neighbouring governorates is encouraging greater numbers of people to commute daily from their native villages and towns to their workplaces in the capital region. In the past, it was not uncommon for them to take up temporary residence in Muscat and head back to their hometowns only on the weekends and public holidays. What has made all the difference for these folks is the convenience offered by a newly opened section of the Batinah Expressway. The carriageway all but eliminates traffic congestion — long been the bane of motorists commuting in and out of the city.
The multilane road network now makes it possible for those who work in Muscat to return to their homes outside the capital, and thereby save on temporary accommodation. Mohammed al Balushi, a native of South al Batinah Governorate, says he can now travel back home after work, thanks to the opening of part of the new Batinah Expressway. “I not only get to spend more time with my family, but save as well,” he said. “True, it takes me an hour to reach home after work, but it’s wonderful to be with family.”
Qasim al Saidi, who also resides in the same governorate, says he now looks forward to saving on the monthly rents he has been shelling out on a small apartment in the city. “For the past three years, I’ve been paying a rent just to stay five nights per week. I hope to save on this amount going forward.” Further, to save on fuel and car maintenance costs, Qasim and three of his friends from the same neighbourhood have decided to carpool, he said. The first phase of the Batinah Expressway project linking Barka and Rustaq was opened for traffic by the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) on Sunday. The 45-km stretch is one of six packages that together make up the 272-km carriageway that begins near Halban Intersection and extends all the way to Khatmat Milahah in Shinas.
Phase 1 begins at the end of Muscat Expressway (Halban Intersection) in Barka and ends at Khabat Al Qadan (45.5 km). It comprises five intersections, five flyovers, two wadi bridges and an underpass. It also includes 235 box culverts and a provision for camel crossing. Phase 2 extends from Khabat Al Qadan to Wadi Al Hamili in Suwaiq. This 44.75 km includes four intersections, a flyover, seven wadi bridges and two underpasses. Also in place are 165 box culverts and a rest area. Phase 3 runs from Wadi Al Hamili in Suwaiq to Hafeet in Saham — a 46.2-km stretch that includes five intersections, four flyovers, four wadi bridges and 220 box culverts.
Phase 4 covers the 43.5-km stretch from Hafeet in Saham to Sohar and includes two intersections, four flyovers, five wadi bridges, an underpass, 198 box culverts and a rest area. Phase 5 represents the 41-km stretch from Sohar to Liwa and includes three intersections, a flyover, three wadi bridges, four underpasses, 132 box culverts and a rest area. Phase 6 is the final 45-km stretch from Liwa to Khatmat Milahah in Shinas and includes four intersections, two flyovers, four wadi bridges, four underpasses, 150 box culverts and a rest area.
All these packages include four 3.75m-wide lanes on each side, a 12-m wide traffic island, 3m external asphalt shoulder, 2m internal asphalt shoulders, 31 wadi bridges and 23 intersections. The project also features 25 wadi bridges and box culverts of various sizes, truck weighing stations, ambulance points and dedicated parking for Royal Oman Police (ROP) vehicles.