By Derek Baldwin, Senior Reporter www.gulfnews.com XPRESS
Dubai : You can’t help feeling a bit like Batman while driving into an apparently secret, subterranean car tunnel coursing under the Downtown Burj Khalifa area.
There are no street signs or nameplates, just four empty lanes of asphalt divided by a concrete divider and two long ceiling slots to allow in air and sunlight.
Several visits by XPRESS to the completely unknown 1.1-kilometre bypass tunnel revealed an empty thoroughfare save for a couple of straggler cars clipping through the concrete passageway.
A Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) official said they weren’t aware of the tunnel which links Downtown Burj Khalifa to Al Mafraq Road and bypasses heavy Dubai Mall traffic congestion on Financial Centre Road (formerly Doha Road).
“We may have announced this already, but I’m not aware of it,” said the official. “It sounds like it will save drivers a lot of time.”
The official couldn’t say when the tunnel had actually opened.
A Dubai Taxi driver said he was overjoyed when he stumbled upon the find by accident.
Using the underground tunnel instead of braving the construction work at Defence Roundabout and Financial Centre Road southerly towards Dubai Mall has saved him many times in recent weeks, he said.
“On busy traffic days, it can take a lot of time to go from Shaikh Zayed Road past Dubai Mall and down the road behind (Al Mafraq Road) to get to Dubai Exhibition Centre,” he said. “There is so much traffic at the [Dubai] Mall. This tunnel has made life much easier.”
To access the tunnel from a westerly direction on Shaikh Zayed Road, drivers can turn in to the Downtown Burj Khalifa exit before the Defence Roundabout exit. Once inside Downtown Burj Khalifa, motorists proceed to the second small roundabout and then turn left towards Emaar Square. The road directly enters the tunnel at the foot of Emaar Square office towers.
It takes about a minute to pass through the tunnel and exit directly onto Al Mafraq Road with the Al Murooj Rotana hotel on the driver’s side.