Dhaka Friday January 14, 2011

An innovative expressway idea that may give new shape to city

The existing rail track can be used in multiple ways by taking the lines underground and allowing building structures above the expressway, a well-known civil engineer visualizes.

The four-track underground railway. Two of the tracks will be dedicated to metro rail and rest two for regular rail service. Above the railway is seen four-lane new roadway on the surface of the corridor taking the existing rail tracks underground. Above the surface roadway is elevated expressway with multi-purpose proposed building blocks on top.
The bottom graph shows how land will be available to construct buildings above the track. A segment of the rail track in cantonment area shows the available spaces at some places are as wide as 800 feet. This is enough to accommodate the plan of schools, offices and apartments in the land-starved city.

Star report


As the city is grappling with an unbearable traffic situation and plans are afoot to go for an elevated expressway, a noted civil engineer has come up with some innovative ideas that will make multiple use of the same space now available for the expressway.

The basic idea of the proposal put forward by Dr M Shamim Z Bosunia, a former professor of civil engineering at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), is very simple. Instead of just building the expressway over the existing rail track, he suggests to take the rail line underground and then build the expressway. Therefore, the existing rail track at ground level will also be converted into a road.

This will lead to an optimum use of the existing railway corridor with a four-track underground railway, a four-lane surface road and an elevated expressway.

One may point out that building the underground rail track all the way to Kamalapur from Tongi would be exorbitantly costly. Bosunia has a solution. He has looked at the track along the city and found that railway has quite a lot of land. These could be sold to developers who would then build high-rises above the track. The elevated expressway would run under the buildings. The sales proceeds of the land from developers would be enough to bear the cost of laying the rail lines underground.

The Daily Star thought that this innovative idea is worth sharing with the public despite the fact that the elevated expressway contract is about to be signed. But if this idea is worthwhile the policy makers can still give it a thought.

“Developing a multi-modal transport system and building multi-purpose structures along the same corridor is possible just by taking the existing rail track underground,” said Bosunia.

The integrated and three-tier transport mode would make the best use of the land almost free from any obstacles in a city extremely land-starved.

Of the four-track railway, two will be dedicated to Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system and the rest two to regular rail service.

The communications ministry is all set to hand over the corridor to the private investor of the proposed 26-kilometre Dhaka Elevated Expressway (DEE) to be built occupying the corridor with the existing rail track on the surface.

“Shifting of the existing rail track underground will also remove the perennial road traffic gridlock at the railway level crossings, meaning there will be no traffic halt due to trail movement,” said Prof. Bosunia.

While the elevated way will be a tolled facility, the new surface road will be toll free extra facility, which will not require any ramps either. The proposed elevated expressway will have several long ramps here and there.

While a four-track railway requires a 70 feet width, the minimum existing width of the corridor is 76 feet which is more than adequate, according to railway's layout of the track.

While the current elevated expressway is projected to cost Tk 8703 crore, Bosunia says implementation of has idea of a three-tier transport system including the MRT will cost Tk 6000 crore. This can as well be a Public-Private Partnership project.

He proposes residential and commercial buildings, shopping complexes, schools, colleges, universities, community centers, city halls, hospitals, hotels, walkways, cycle lanes and tree plantation by the four-lane roadway on the spare land all along the rail corridor.

Real estate developers can form consortium with financial and engineering institutions.

To take the rail line underground, Bosunia proposes to cut away the earth from above in an open-cut style. And then set up concrete boxes to build the channel for the rail track.

It will involve many local engineers and professional personnel in the work.

It will also incorporate new utility service provisions of water supply, gas, electricity, and rainwater harvesting.

Funding & Sustainability:
* Self sustained project
* Large Public Limited Company by forming consortium of local leading builders / developers / financial institutions
* Scope for capital market participation, huge product for share market
* Public Private Partnership (PPP) project
* Green / Zero Emission building
* Roof top solar panel
* Horizontal / Vertical garden
* Captive & dedicated power plant for the project

Structural Form:
* Open-cut simple structural form
* Combination of Continuous box, two basement, low rise building type
* Reinforced Concrete
* Easy construction by local constructors / contractors
* Can be divided into pieces for mass participation (construction / design)

Utility Services Provision:
* New provision for utility services
* Solid waste
* Waste water
* Water supply
* Water recycling
* Rainwater harvesting
* Gas Electricity