Monday, November 05, 2007

Turning over a new 'leaf

Once upon a time, before the RTA, highways and traffic matters in Dubai were dealt with by the Municipality. DM ordained in around around 2000 that a new interchange should be built on Al Ittihad Road immediately adjacent to the border with Sharjah. Following a careful, comprehensive and detailed traffic study it was decided that a cloverleaf junction would be the most appropriate solution, so one was built at a cost of (and I'm guessing) around Dh50 million.

Upon the opening of Al Mamzar, Interchange 66, traffic making the Sharjah schlepp into Dubai was able to divert towards Hamriya and get into Dubai along the coast road. Almost immediately, DM blocked the right turn from Sharjah and the loop from Hamriya to Sharjah. "It is inappropriate that commuters should drive through residential areas," we were told at the time. Oh yeah? Then why build the interchange?

It transpires that the reason for the closure was that nasty, smelly pickup trucks were daring to use the new interchange to access the old fruit and vegetable market at Hamriya. DM's solution was obvious: move the market elsewhere. So, in 2004 the market was relocated and the interchange was reopened. And closed again within two months.

Since then, the loop from Hamriya towards Sharjah has been opened to traffic. This is nothing to do witheasing congestion and everything to do with lack of traffic enforcement. With the loop closed, traffic from Hamriya heading towards Sharjah had to cross over Al Ittihad Road, and many drivers simply made an illegal U-turn at the first traffic lights. Rather than enforce the U-turn ban, DM simply opened the loop. Nowadays, the banned movement at the cloverleaf is the right turn from Sharjah towards Hamriya. It's also impossible to go left, aroud the loop, from Sharjah because both exits are attached to the same, blocked, service road.

Why did DM's careful, comprehensive and detailed traffic study fail to anticipate the obvious? If you have two parallel roads, one of which is gridlocked with traffic, drivers will divert to the other, less-trafficked route. Could it perhaps be that the forecast traffic flows were arbitrarily massaged in accordance with anecdotal evidence from senior members of DM's traffic engineering team, rather than accepting the outputs derived from observed data? Was the traffic model totally ignored because someone senior fancied a cloverleaf? Had a brown envelope changed hands between DM and a contractor? Was there a change of government policy?

The de facto policy is to limit access from Sharjah into Dubai. Make the cheapskates queue for hours to get through Al Qiyadah junction.

Releasing the choke point would have two immediate consequences. First, more traffic would flood into Dubai and probably overwhelm the already overstressed highway network. Secondly, if it were easy to travel from Sharjah to Dubai, yet more commuters would move north to avoid Dubai's Rahmanian rents and potty parking charges. Not that Sharjah has any difficulty in filling every square inch of the emirate with high-occupancy, high-rent, high-rise towers.

Back to Al Mamzar interchange. I suspect that the real reason for the partial closure of the interchange is related to complaints from some V.V.V.I.P. in Mamzar who rather dislikes the plebeians driving past his front gate every morning.


Keefieboy said...

Relocate the VVVVIP?

MamaDuck said...

Missing it already...........

rosh said...

SHJ could have easily solved the traffic in the Emirate's city center, if they had some sincerity towards logical city development and far less greed.

It is a beautiful Arab Emirate - well at least it used to be, now it's like we are living off Dubai, with little care for well being of the SHJ residents.


The opinions expressed in this weblog are the works of the Grumpy Goat, and are not necessarily the opinions shared by any person or organisation who may be referenced. Come to that, the opinions may not even be those of the Grumpy Goat, who could just be playing Devil's Advocate. Some posts may be of parody or satyrical [sic] nature. Nothing herein should be taken too seriously. The Grumpy Goat would prefer that offensive language or opinions not be posted in the comments. Offensive comments may be subject to deletion at the Grumpy Goat's sole discretion. The Grumpy Goat is not responsible for the content of other blogs or websites that are linked from this weblog. No goats were harmed in the making of this blog. Any resemblance to individuals or organisations mentioned herein and those that actually exist may or may not be intentional. May contain nuts.