Mar 15, Colombo: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today declared open the second phase of the country's first ever expressway extending high speed travel up to Matara.
The 35-kilometer extension of Southern Expressway from Pinnaduwa in Galle to Godagama in Matara was opened for public this afternoon by the President amid a large gathering of people.
The President opened the expressway at Galle entry point at an auspicious time and drove to the exit at Matara as the first passenger in a vehicle driven by his son Hambantota district parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa.
At the finish of the journey in Godagama the President also addressed the people gathered to welcome the President and presented awards to students who participated in an art contest themed 'Wonder in Sri Lanka's Highways'.
With the opening of the expressway up to Matara the time taken to travel between Colombo and Matara will be reduced to one hour and 20 minutes from about 4 hours on the normal route.
The four-lane extension was constructed at a cost of US$ 180 million with the funds from EXIM Bank of China.
The extension has two interchanges along the 35 kilometer distance between Galle and Matara. The two interchanges are at Wathawana area in Galle Deniyaya Road and in Kokmaduwa along the Weligama Kananke Road.
Construction of the 75-kilometer segment from Matara- Godagama to Hambantota Harbor via Beliatta, Andarawewa, and Mattala will commence next month, a highway official said. The project is estimated to be completed in four years.
Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne, Minister Dullas Alahapperuma, Matara district parliamentarian Sanath Jayasuriya and several other parliamentarians, Governor of Southern Province Kumari Balasuriya, Ambassador of China Wu Jianghao, government officials and officials of the Chinese Embassy in Colombo participated in the occasion.
(Photos by Chandana Perera)