By Ashfaq Ahmed, Chief Reporter  www.gulfnews.com

Traffic congestion around the First Interchange (known as Defence Roundabout), on Shaikh Zayed Road near Burj Khalifa, will ease once the project is completed in December this year.

    *  Some bridges comprising the First Interchange project are operational.     * Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News
* Some bridges comprising the First Interchange project are operational. * Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Though, some of the bridges on the three-tier interchange have opened, diversions and road blocks cause massive traffic congestion in the area, especially on roads leading to the Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai Mall and Al Safa area.

Work on the Dh617-million First Interchange project had started in December 2006 and was initially scheduled for completion in 30 months — by the end of 2009. Though its completion date was extended, some bridges were opened gradually this year.

The RTA has completed almost 85 per cent of construction on the main bridges and roads of the First Interchange, a key and most sophisticated projects currently undertaken by the RTA.

The project will be complete by the end of December 2010 ensuring smooth flow of traffic in the area. It will provide free flow of traffic in this important commercial district in the area linking Shaikh Zayed Road, Financial Centre Street and Al Safa Street.

The First Interchange is one of the biggest interchanges in the emirate with its bridges spanning three kilometres and its tunnels extending 850 metres.

The First Interchange project includes the construction of a tunnel to link the service road behind Mazaya Centre with the service road behind Shangrila Hotel. The interchange will also provide easy access to service roads leading to the Burj Khalifa community, Business Bay and surrounding areas.

When the project is complete, the Ras Al Khor (Business Bay Road Corridor) project will construct 14 kilometres of road to connect the Beirut underpass to the First Interchange.

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