A further boost to connectivity
Two more major roadway bridges -- believed to be boosting the internal communication of the region and beyond -- are going to be opened to the public on Monday.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the Modhumoti Bridge (locally known as Kalna Bridge) in Narail and the 3rd Shitalakhya Bridge in Narayanganj virtually from Gono Bhaban.
Sultana Yasmin, joint secretary of the Road Transport and Highway Division, confirmed the development to The Daily Star yesterday.
The construction of Kalna Bridge -- the first six-lane bridge in the country -- will fill up the last missing link of Asian Highway-1 and cut the distance between Dhaka and Jashore significantly.
Meanwhile, the 3rd Shitalakhya Bridge will establish a direct linkage between Narayanganj and Bandar upazila, ultimately connecting two major national highways -- Dhaka-Chattogram and Dhaka-Mawa-Bhanga-Barishal-Patuakhali highways.
The development came over three months after the government opened the long-cherished Padma Bridge in June and a month after the opening of Bangamata Begum Fazilatunnesa Mujib 8th Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge in Pirojpur last month.
The new bridges will boost connectivity further, said Syed Moinul Hasan, additional chief engineer (planning and maintenance wing) of the Roads and Highways Department (RHD), the implementing agency of the projects.
The Asian Highway-1 route, connecting Meghalaya with India's West Bengal via Sylhet-Dhaka-Narail-Jashore, earlier had two missing links -- the Padma Bridge and the Kalna Bridge.
With the opening of the Modhumoti Bridge, the last missing link will be joined, Moinul Hasan told The Daily Star yesterday.
Moinul also said the 3rd Shitalakhya Bridge will directly connect the Dhaka-Chattogram Highway with Dhaka-Mawa-Bhanga Expressway.
"As a result, vehicles from southern districts would not need to come from Jatrabari to Chattogram. The connecting road is not a wide one, so we will take another project for its expansion," he added.
The length of the route from Dhaka to Jashore via Gabtoli-Paturia-Daulatdia-Magura-Jashore is 218km. However, on the Jatrabari-Padma Bridge-Klana Bridge route, the distance will only be 160km, said another RHD official.
On May 2016, RHD took up a project titled Cross-Border Road Network Improvement Project with a soft loan from Japan.
The Madhumati bridge over the river of the same name, which is one of the 17 bridges being constructed under the Tk 3,745.51-crore project, will reduce the travel time between Dhaka and Jashore.
The physical work of the 690m bridge started in November 2018 at the cost of Tk 959.45 crore. This is a Nielsen-Lohse arch-type steel bridge, which is 27.10m wide, and the first six-lane bridge in the country.
On November 2010, RHD initiated the 3rd Shitalakhya Bridge project with Saudi Arabia's funding. However, it took over seven years to hire consultants and contractors before the physical works started in late 2017.
The 1234.5m bridge with the 834.5m viaduct is formally named Bir Muktijodhhda AKM Nasim Osman 3rd Shitalkhya Bridge.
The only direct road connection is through the Kanchpur Bridge (Shitalakhya-1 Bridge), which currently requires nearly 30km of travel, according to RHD documents.
Once the four-lane Shitalakhya bridge with walkways is opened to the public, commuters will have to travel less than two kilometres to reach Narayanganj from Bandar upazila.