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New interchange to ease Outer Ring traffic jams

by kenya-tribune

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The Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura) is set to build a new exchange linking the Outer Ring Road and Thika Super Highway to ease the traffic at the junction between the two major highways.

The new exchange is expected to restore the glory of Outer Ring road, initially conceived as a game changer for the eastern part of Nairobi where a high population density has led to heavy traffic over the years.

More than a year after the road was upgraded and opened for use, traffic jam has worsened between Pipeline Estate and Kariobangi junction, a section interspersed with several pedestrian crossings and passenger picking spots.

There have also been several design afterthoughts including the ongoing construction of a middle road on the space between the two sides of the highway after street lights had been completed at around the Umoja area.

The Kura, which is in charge of the road said an interchange plan was mooted at after it emerged that the link was not well thought out.

Kura communications manager John Cheboi said the design for the new exchange was complete and the agency was considering whether to float it as a fresh tender or allow the same contractor to do it.

“We completed the design and we will put up a new exchange there since, at the time of designing the junction with Thika Road, there were not as many vehicles as now,” said Mr Cheboi, who did not, however, reveal the cost of the new exchange.

The junction has one of the worst traffic snarl-ups during peak hours.

The Sh8.5 billion Outer Ring had also envisioned a nine-metre Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) connecting the Eastern Bypass to Thika superhighway but a drive through the highway shows that the allowance only exists on certain areas and missing in others.

Pillars also sit on the middle on the nine-metre space at various points, in what may bar the BRT lane.

The Kura official, however, said areas where the pillars exist will have a switch on the express bus line into other lanes before proceeding as was planned.

The 13-kilometre stretch was meant to be a fast highway to the airport, 80km/hour speed on average to be precise and just over ten minutes’ drive on it.

However, motorists routinely take up to one hour on the road and will be lucky to drive above 50km/h in most sections.

Outer Ring Road, which was designed to be a congestion-relief highway, traverses two of the most densely-populated areas in the capital city — Nairobi East and Nairobi North districts. It was estimated to serve at least 2.2 million people, more than half the city’s population.

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