Al-Ahram Weekly   Al-Ahram Weekly
16 - 22 September 1999
Issue No. 447
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Issues navigation Current Issue Previous Issue Back Issues

 
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Red means jam

By Shaden Shehab

The ninth and final extension of the 6th of October Bridge, built at a cost of LE360 million, was finally inaugurated on Monday by Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri. The five-kilometre extension, running from Ghamra to the Autostrade, had taken three years to build, compared to the 27 years for the construction of the previous 16 kilometres.

Cairenes had been waiting impatiently for the completion of the bridge, in the hope that it would help streamline traffic and save motorists time.

However, a one-week trial period in the second half of August disappointed many because, contrary to expectations, the bridge was clogged, especially from Ghamra to the city centre.

El-Ganzouri
photo: Nour Sobeih Bridges

Prime Minister El-Ganzouri (Up) inaugurates the ninth extension of the 6th of October Bridge which, it is hoped, will help streamline traffic
photo: Antoune Albert

Immediately following the trial period, high-level meetings were held between top engineers at the Arab Contractors -- the constructing company -- and government officials, during which solutions were put forward.

The final adjustments made included installation of traffic signals at entrances, indicating whether the bridge was crowded or not, in order to give motorists the choice between using the bridge or continuing below. The signals were installed at the Autostrade, Orouba, Lutfi El-Sayed and Ramses entrances.

Red means the bridge is crowded, recommending to motorists that it is better to remain below. Yellow means there is some traffic on the bridge, and that drivers should proceed at their own risk. Green means traffic is flowing smoothly. The lights will change according to constant updates from motorcycle police monitoring the bridge and cameras placed on the highest buildings alongside, linked to a "control room" at the Cairo Traffic Department.

And because the trial period revealed that broken-down vehicles were a principal cause of traffic jams on the bridge, 2.5-metre-wide lay-bys were allocated at about every 200 metres, to which such vehicles will be moved by tow-trucks. Since the original plan for the bridge had not taken this into consideration, extra lanes had to be added to the bridge.

Public transport vehicles, though not school and tourist buses, are prohibited from using the bridge.

Only time will tell if the bridge extension, and the latest adjustments, will be the traffic-saviour many had hoped.

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