The Great Delkanda Wala.

This extraordinary, unnatural phenomenon- a massive hole with water coursing though it, in the tarmac of high-level road at Delkanda has been a blight on the lives of all those who live, work commute and travel along the High Level Road for about six months. That’s a lot of people. The High-level road aka the A 4 is one of the main routes out of Colombo – heading towards the densely populated suburbs of Nugegoda, Maharagama and Pannipitya and beyond to Avisawella and the hill country. It’s also the link road to the nation’s only expressway – the E 1 to Galle.

Basically this is a pretty important road. Given the frankly extreme amount of traffic that rumbles along it daily the fact that there has been an enormous – 2 lanes wide hole (barely leaving two lanes for traffic) in it for 6 months was obviously going to cause some pretty horrendous disruption.

It started when they began widening the entire length of the Highlevel road from two to four lanes. While they completed this onerous, overdue and important task relatively quickly the little bridge spanning a small culvert/stream at Delkanda was left as a two lane bottle neck. So at some point near the middle of last year they (I believe the RDA- Road Development Authority) began making an effort to widen it. However these widening attempts have been nothing short of disastrous. While they’ve worked day and night for half a year there’s still effectively a two-lane hole in the middle of High-level road.

Now I’m no engineer but surely erecting a four lane bridge over a stream shouldn’t take 6 months. How on earth do they build those kilometers long sea-spanning bridges in Japan? Also, as someone who commutes along the A4 almost everyday I have seen their initial efforts fail. At some point things literally seemed to collapse. The fact that our nation’s engineers and state road agency were stumped by a 10 meter bridge raises some pretty serious doubts about the long term economic viability of this country. I mean if it takes 6 months to bridge a stream what hope have we of ever seeing a metro-system or say a highway built without foreign aid and engineers.

This is honestly quite troubling but well it terms of the disruption and traffic chaos at least it seems an end is in sight. I noticed today that the major part of the hole has been filled in and covered with concrete pylons so it looks like commuters will soon be able to roll down the A4 unobstructed and diverted.

You dread to think though what will happen if they try to build say another bridge over the Kelani-river.

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