Southern Expressway
Posted on December 5th, 2011

Aloysius Hettiarachchi, BruneiƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

I have been a keen follower of the progress of the only expressway in our country so far. When some pictures of it were being circulated around the world by some of my batch mates of Peradeniya university, I was happy to see that they looked very impressive and the highway could beƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  comparable to the best in the world. However I noticed something which appeared to be aƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  technical snag in the alignment of the road in one of the pictures and tried to get it verified. This was in July this year. So far I have not got a clear answer.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  My questions were whether the designer included transition curves in that particular bend I was commenting on, who is the designer and what is the design speed. I now know the design speed is 100km/h. which appear to be too high to that bend. Some people who appear to be in the authority do not even understand what is transition curve. These are short lengths of the road in the bend at beginning and at end ( about 100 meters long) where the motorist can adjust the speed to be able to travel safely in the circular curve that follows and then enter safely to the straight section . In roads where the speed is not high the designers do not use it, but for an expressway this is a must. I have come across high speed roads where they did not include these curves and people get into accidents frequently.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Normally these rules are clearly spelt out in the design manual the country uses. I got the impression that our country does not have one except the upcountry design manual which is not relevant for the design of high speed roads.

It appears that people comment onƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  safety, the length of acceleration lanes etc. Some websites give adverse comment on this road to discredit the government. What can the politicians do when the above issues (if any) are the responsibility of technocrats that manages the various authorities?.

The present government gives a lot of emphasis to the development of roads network in the country which is commendable. I would like to request the government/ authorities to ensure that approved design standards are followed and these should be included in a design manual covering the whole country. Irrespective of the consultant that does the design or their nationality we must stick to our own.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  If this is done, then there cannot be any comments on substandard roads.

Aloysius Hettiarachchi,

BruneiƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

34 Responses to “Southern Expressway”

  1. Raju Says:

    This so called bend(s) is based entirely on photographs. It is an optical illusion people are seeing.

    But that won’t stop self appointed pundits finding something to whine about. There seems to be some kind of odd inferiority complex where Sinhala people just love to put Sri Lanka down finding some fault (real or not) and writing long tales about it.

    Two days ago someone whined to the Island that the 3 month delay in opening the expressway was unacceptable as it showed the RDA had “over looked things” and tossed in some nonsense about cost.

    Yesterday someone whined to the Island that the RDA had rushed open the expressway and thus once again “over looked things” such as a fence for stray dogs and tossed in some nonsense about cost.

    There is simply no pleasing these whiners who are always out to look for some fault. Then complain that it is “either costing to much” or “was done to save money” (thus costing too little) hence why no one else spotted or bothered with such deficiencies until these geniuses and 24 hour Engineering PhD holders found out.

    We had plenty of armchair generals during the war. All their rubbish proved to be rubbish. In the end it was and GR’s tactics, plans, contingency plans and long term strategic out look and determination that won us the war.

    And regarding the dog problem on the expressway they’ll stop coming when they realise its dangerous. For a year they made the expressway their home as they enjoy resting on the smooth road surface (they do this on sides of normal roads as well) and got used to having a nap or a stroll along the expressway. The RDA could not shoo them all away as they were not doing “dog patrols” as a permanent feature of their job. These animals will stay away once they learn the danger. The noise from vehicles as traffic increases will also keep them away.

  2. Raju Says:

    This so called bend(s) is based entirely on photographs. It is an optical illusion people are seeing.

    But that won’t stop self appointed pundits finding something to whine about. There seems to be some kind of odd inferiority complex where Sinhala people just love to put Sri Lanka down finding some fault (real or not) and writing long tales about it.

    Two days ago someone whined to the Island that the 3 month delay in opening the expressway was unacceptable as it showed the RDA had “over looked things” and tossed in some nonsense about cost.

    Yesterday someone whined to the Island that the RDA had rushed open the expressway and thus once again “over looked things” such as a fence for stray dogs and tossed in some nonsense about cost.

    There is simply no pleasing these whiners who are always out to look for some fault. Then complain that it is “either costing to much” or “was done to save money” (thus costing too little) hence why no one else spotted or bothered with such deficiencies until these geniuses and 24 hour Engineering PhD holders found out

    We had plenty of armchair generals during the war. All their rubbish proved to be rubbish. In the end it was GR’s tactics, plans, contingency plans and long term strategic out look and determination that won us the war.

    And regarding the dog problem on the expressway they’ll stop coming when they realise its dangerous. For a year they made the expressway their home as they enjoy resting on the smooth road surface (they do this on sides of normal roads as well) and got used to having a nap or a stroll along the expressway. The RDA could not shoo them all away as they were not doing “dog patrols” as a permanent feature of their job. These animals will stay away once they learn the danger. The noise from vehicles as traffic increases will also keep them away.

  3. Devinda Fernando Says:

    People who think the Highway system in Sri Lanka is a bad idea are free to continue using the Local Roads…

    P.S. – Have fun dodging 3 wheelers, delirious bicycle riders, families on scooters, hand tractors, food vendor carts, stray dogs, dopey pedestrians, beggars, mini buses, drunks, and potholes, and wandering cows.

  4. Kit Athul Says:

    Sorry Raju, dog patrols are a MUST. What happens if a dog is struck by a seeding car? It will go out of control and over turn. This happens in US all the time. If some sees a dog on a free way (That is what we call expressways) he / she calls the highway petrol , they immediately send a dog unit to catch the dog. Yes I saw the stray dog on the video. How about a meeharaka straying on to the express way? Whos responsibility is to move the cow?

  5. Raju Says:

    Kit,

    I am referring to the construction phase which attracted the dogs in the first place. The RDA did not have the time or resources to deal with them continuously.

    As time passes the dogs will stop coming to the expressway.

    In the mean time it is indeed a problem.

    What you suggest is difficult because Sri Lanka lacks a properly functioning animal impound system (the dogs will simply be let loose nearby and then return again later). I am not opposed to creating a solution and agree it is a problem and “dog patrols” are needed but will expressway users/the public be willing to fork out the extra cash to fund such a venture? Time will tell.

    There are just too many pundits around who whine about “cost” and “corruption” and try to find as many flaws and problems as they can they believing new, efficient, state of the art highways are “not worth it”. When clearly they are beneficial.

  6. Raju Says:

    There are just too many pundits around who whine about “cost” and “corruption” and try to find as many flaws and problems as they can believing new, efficient, state of the art highways are “not worth it”. When clearly they are beneficial.

    Aloysius is complaining all the way from Brunei over an expressway he has not travelled on but thinks is an expert over based entirely on pictures he has seen. Pictures are deceptive as they create illusions due to the length of the expressway. These illusions vary depending on the position, elevation and location the photo is taken. All the videos of the expressway do not match what Aloysius (and a few others) have whined about.

  7. S de Silva Says:

    Question on Safety – Is there sufficient room for a driver of a vehicle in the emergency lane as a result of a breakdown carefully open his door at all with saety, any instructions on this? – S de Silva – London

  8. Jayantha Says:

    I was amused by the article above by a person living in Brunei and commenting about a facility built in Sri Lanka by merely looking at photographs. Raju, thenks for your comments.
    One must appreciate this project (even arm-chair pundits), the first of its kind in Sri Lanka. Regarding stray dogs and bulls crossing the expressway, one cannot just try to stop the animals crossing. Accidents will happen and life will go on.
    I live in the US, in the remote agricultural areas of the midwest. Every winter there are hundreds if not thousands of accidents due to deer crossing interstates. I have hit deer on two occasions this year so far. Driving at 70 -75 miles per hour (about 120 km per hour) at 5.00 am when it is very dark going to various job sites. The truck I was driving got damaged but what the heck, that is life. I got the truck fixed and installed a deer siren (cost $2.00 – about Rs 200) on the front and rear of my vehicle. A little plastic gadget that uses the atmospheric air to emit a whistle that animals cn hear and the result is they just stay the heck away.
    We must admire the freeing of Sri Lanka and the efforts by the government to develop this land where the people will benefit. All the critics will talk about bribes, corruption, killings and deals. Tell me of one country that has no corruption and show me one country where there are no poor people.
    Jay Pathbey – USA

  9. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    Aloysius Hettiarachchi, of Brunei says some people who appear to be in the authority do not even understand what is transition curve. Then it is a problem of language, not an engineering problem. Explain that in Sinhala.

    May be in Brunei you can design these major divergers with a transition curve. But in Europe they do it as a taper section and a nose section.

    See UK standards for calculation of nose and taper section http://www.dft.gov.uk/ha/standards/dmrb/vol6/section2/td2206.pdf
    General http://www.dft.gov.uk/ha/standards/dmrb/vol6/section2/td3994.pdf

    In Europe and in China it is considered as a very dangerous design if a curve is provided at the entrance to a major diverger.

  10. bathgediya Says:

    You cannot conclude that there is a “snag in the alignment of the road” by looking at a photograph (unless you were looking at a rectified aerial photo – also known as an Orthophoto). A photograph is a Perspective Projection and is inherently distorted. If a perfect circle was drawn on the surface of the road it would appear as an ellipse on the photo.

  11. DrPadmaWijesekara Says:

    Dear All
    Please visit RDA and STDP Web sites for more information and future projects.
    http://www.rda.gov.lk/index.htm
    http://www.stdp.lk/index.php
    Proud to see how Sri Lanka is moving in the rapid development path under Mahinda Chintanaya. We should encourage Sri Lankan government to take more proactive approach to develop other highways as early as possible. These new construction plans are vital for our economy, because
    1. Provide jobs for the people
    2. Can train our engineers in motorway building and we can start world-wide business in long run
    3. Save fuel consumption- Motorway fuel consumption is always about 50% less
    4. Provide logistical support for our industries
    5. Reduces road congestions and significantly reduces CO emission

    Good Luck Sri Lanka

  12. aloy Says:

    A picture they say, is worth thousand words. Even if there is optical illusion /distortion the fact remains that there is a back to back reverse curve as seen from the photograph. I will email this again to LankaWeb to display somewhere for all to see if possible. I was only making an observation and not making an adverse comment on what I have seen. It is up to whoever it may concern to verify this as it is a safety issue which is of paramount importance. I did it about four months ago and forgot about it. You cannot verify this simply by driving on the road in question. The various important sections such as transition at entry, the circular curve, the second transition at exit of first curve, the intervening tangent length and the repetition of same in the second curve are not indicated on the road to see. You need to look at the construction drawing issued to the contractor or simply ask the designer/ consultant whether all elements have been taken care of as per the design guide lines. I decided to take up this issue when I saw people commenting on safety issues of this road in some websites critical to the government.
    My statement that ‘some people in authority..’ was not intended to mean those in Road Development Authority. I had exchanges of emails with another party through the editor of LankaWeb whom I may have mistaken as an authority before asking the editor to publish it. My apology to engineers in RDA if I may have caused any inconvenience or embarrassment to them. However, I know that at least a few are responsible for the death of an innocent person about a year ago when a bridge collapsed. It was found that some eighty odd bridges were faulty. There is no explanation to that death to date. Those commenting adversely on this write up please take note.
    I know of the first expressway in another country constructed using the old design standards ended up being called the slaughterhouse as many people perished on it regularly. The problem was attributed to carelessness of drivers who use to drive at speeds exceeding 160-170km/h.
    I do not consider myself to be an expert. But after working in three counties including Sri Lanka, ( RDA and RCDC) on design and construction of roads for over 25 years, I think I have sufficient knowledge to make the above observation.
    As for NeelaMahaYoda’s comment, I think he too have missed the point. So, the sentence he put in bold applies to him as well. What I am talking about is not the junctions or interchanges of the websites he has given. I am unable explain in Sinhala. If he still cannot get it please type ‘transition curve’ in Google and refer to the description under Wikipedia. It is a good description and also indicates why it is used. The clothoid mentioned therein is only one form of spiral having a complex formula. I was able to implement it in a Lisp program to run inside AutoCad and draw horizontal alignments automatically when we give the parameters of the elements. These programs (horizontal and vertical alignments, road cross sections) have been used to design and construct roads here. One was designed for a speed of 120km/h and have been in use for many years without problems.

  13. Christie Says:

    .

    When British came with Indians in 1792, the Sinhalese ambushed and attacked and killed most of the Indians. So the British brought more Indians and developed a road network that helped them in taking the Kandy Kingdom. Then they developed a road network for the plantation indudstry that was on the lands of Sinhalese. These road networks helped them to control any Sinhalese uprising because of their loss of land and the source of living. Remeber the Maruti regiments that were in Ceylon to protect plantations and Indian workers.

    One thing that helped Tamil terrorism was the lack of proper road network in the North and the East.

    So roads are necessary for military purposes

  14. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    You are still wrong Aloy, it is called track transition curve. By the way the Design and construction of the Southern highway was carried out by three reputable international companies, China Harbour, Taisei, & Kumagai Gumi. With Supervision Consultation by OC Japan & Roughton UK. Don’t you think that It is very odd to notice a mistake like that by looking at a photograph. You don’t have to read a construction drawing to verify it, By now people must have noticed it if it is wrong. You normally feel it if the curve is not properly designed for the recommended speed, because the centrifugal force will prevent you from taking the curve smoothly. You must have worked for RDA, but RDA has no previous experience of design and construction of motorways. I am glad that you have now learned the requirement for track transition curve. Did you know that when they built Kurunegala- Dambulla highway, because RDA has completely ignored the requirement for track transition curve and over 100 fatal accidents have been reported uptodate. Anyway, Brunei has got single carriageway highways( Two lanes). You can not classify them as motorways and for those roads you have to be careful about track transition curve. The set of design specifications available for design and construction of motorways will not allow shorter tract transition curves for motorways.

  15. Dilrook Says:

    So roads are necessary for military purposes.

    Absolutely.

    The whole Jayasikuru operation was about clearing the vital road network so that the military could get to anywhere in large numbers fast and at low cost with their various heavy weapons. It didn’t work but the same has been achieved today.

  16. aloy Says:

    Neelamahayoda,
    Thanks for giving some information about Sri Lankan Roads. Brunei has many four lane dual carriageways. There is one called coastal highway having many horizontal curves where some people drive at speeds of 200km/h. I was involved in the design of two of them. The authorities here are very strict on enforce guide lines on design and terms in the condition of contract for contractors. Unlike in some other countries they do not allow extension of time easily and apply LAD (Liquidated and Ascertained Damages) amounting to several millions of Dollars.
    I am yet to get the name of the designer of Southern Expressway and the design standard used. We need to find out whether it is up to current standards or an outdated one. All this time we were only upgrading or rehabilitating of existing roads network left behind by our colonial masters in Sri Lanka. Perhaps it is time that RDA give training to their young engineers on design of highways.
    I am grateful to the former chairman of RDA/RCDC for giving me a training on AutoCad and AutoLisp programming while I was in the defunct RCDC. This gave me an opportunity to get into the design of roads myself although I have been previously involved in the coordination of design work by other international consultants.

  17. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    Dear Aloy
    Instead of trying to re-invent the wheel. Please follow the link and read TEM STANDARDS AND RECOMMENDED PRACTICE and see how simple these calculations are done in Europe
    http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/main/tem/temdocs/TEM-Std-Ed3.pdf
    Please see the details how you get parameter of alignment under section 3 Design Parameters
    Design Speed Definition – Horizontal and Vertical Alignment
    Horizontal Curves
    Transition Curves
    Vertical Curves
    Gradients
    Crossfall
    Sight Distance
    Interchanges
    Characteristics of Slip Roads
    Convergence of Traffic Flows
    Acceleration Lanes
    I am sure RDA is not aware of these information. I am not sure AutoCad can calculate these parameters. Perhaps you can develop a software algorithm to facilitae calculation in AutoCad and give that to RDA.

  18. Raju Says:

    ”aloy Says:
    December 3rd, 2011 at 3:52 am

    A picture they say, is worth thousand words.”

    No kidding Aloysius.

    Pictures can also easily be edited, manipulated and of course are easily deceptive. In the case regarding the expressway they are indeed deceptive. Shame you cannot realise that for your whole thesis is built on a deceptive picture hence why it falls apart so easily.

    ”However, I know that at least a few are responsible for the death of an innocent person about a year ago when a bridge collapsed. It was found that some eighty odd bridges were faulty. There is no explanation to that death to date.”

    Oh goodness.

    The loss of the child is sad and my sympathies go to the family.

    The University of Moratuwa did a study as did the Engineering consultants (people who know what they are taking about and who happen to be in Sri Lanka).

    They found flaws in 30 bridges/underpasses as they had been made out of iron without re-enforcing them with concrete as stipulated. This was on parts of the expressway given to sub-contractor on the Japanese section. The solution was to re-enforce all such structures throughout the highway with concrete with cost of which bared out by the sub-contractor (who has now been black listed for taking short cuts). This has been done, over a year almost. No other accidents or similar incidents have happened since. Frequent testing was done by the UoM, and is still done by the UoM and the RDA officials to make sure everything is “perfect”.

    Had you TRUELY CARED and been CONCERNED you would have followed the chain of events yourself and searched out all the necessary follow up information.

    Yet true to form you lock onto a FLAW and see nothing else and keep harping on about it. Even though an investigation was done, results were published and solutions implemented and no further incidents reported you stick to the past to promote a fraudulent point.

    This is typical of the older generation with giant egos only seeing things their way and playing “seniority” to stop anyone challenging their archaic backward views.

    Plain and simple YOU ARE WRONG. There is no “bend” problem. Just accept it and move on. Clearly of course your ego prevents you from doing so.

    It is because of people like you with your arrogance and desires for self importance coupled to a bizarre inferiority complex of finding FLAWS and FAULTS when there are none (this is a disease afflicting only Sinhalese driven by their own jealousies, selfishness, and desires to show off) the country gets nowhere.

    If backward thinking know it all whiners like you had their way the Army would be battling the LTTE at Negombo today.

    Sri Lanka will always be stuck in some backward rut because WHINERS like yourself emerge from every corner to question “the point” in anything giving the perception that we’d be better off the way “things are” and do nothing to improve the nation.

    It is because of people like you the country has suffered so much and your kind continues to curse the nation. BE POSITIVE, do not keep putting Sri Lanka down or try to SHOW OFF. If you cannot just keep quiet and enjoy your doting years in Brunei. Maybe you should focus your energies on the Sultan giving you citizenship or a knighthood.

  19. aloy Says:

    Dear Dr.Padma (of RDA ?) and NeelaMahaYoda,
    Thank you for the info. Yes we should not try to reinvent the wheel. This is what most countries do. The country where I was working previously copied the US standard wholesale and even changed driving side to left to suit that. Malaysia more or less adopted the US standard in 1985 and stick to it until today. You indirectly admitted that Sri Lanka does not have one. I hope RDA will do the same as Malaysia by appointing a commitee to go into all aspects of road design and recommend guide lines in several volumes.
    I would like to know from Dr. Padma the info I was trying to get in my write up. I appreciate the step taken by the government in appointing three local consultant with the leadership of a prominent local engineer for the design of roads in STDP under Mahinda Chintanaya.
    I have gone through the unce manual sent by NeelaMahaYoda and find the same thing I was talking about in my earlier comment. However I find it lacking in certain respect; it does not have the tables for transition curves. SL can use it as a reference.
    AutoCad is a program written in Lisp (List Processing, which is an Artificial Intelligence Language) However it allows you to upload another program written in Lisp and do various calculations, use the results to draw what you need automatically. If the opportunity is given, I will definitely help RDA to train their Engineers to do what I have learned over the years. Incidentally the jargon, reinventing the wheel, was made popular by IT people after the advent of Object Oriented Programming in languages such as C++, Java and C#. They use well tested program parts which are in libraries in different countries bring them over the internet and assemble them to make software instead of reinventing them. Lisp cannot do that, as it is not an OOP languge.

  20. Lorenzo Says:

    Raju,

    Big talkers (or BSs) are dime a dozen in SL but VERY FEW workers. Typical!

    Southern Express way is a great piece of work. It may need regular maintenance as with many FIRST expressways of countries.

    Within a week it collected 6.7 million rupees which is a very good sign. We have to improve on this.

    We should not forget there are JVP, UNP, TNA, old communist crowd and NGOs UNFORTUNATELY breathing and living. They cannot stand this for obvious reasons.

    It’s fun when they are sad or disturbed!! :)

    Not sure if it will be good or bad, night street racing will be happening in Colombo on 16 and 17. Roads are done to suit some racing cars. At least the roads are getting done. Until about 5 years ago SL was infamous for world’s WORST ROADS!

  21. DrPadmaWijesekara Says:

    Dear Aloy
    I am not from RDA or I don’t have any connection with RDA.I am living in London. Aloy, your point may be correct, as you say, most of the motorways make that mistake. However,I understand that most of the critics of the Southern Expressway are making these points to score a political point or two against the government. But, Sri Lankan authority should take these technical comments and criticisms more seriously. since, we are not in a position to make the same mistake again and again. As Raju says, the mistakes the contractors were making should have been avoided if they had a proper design review procedure and design standards. I think President should take a proactive approach to get voluntary expertise from non-resident Sri Lankans with sufficient knowledge to get development work streamlined.

  22. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    Dear Aloy
    I am 100% behind you, yes, always we should to get it correct first time .
    Aloy, There are hundreds of Motorway design and construction projects are going on all over the world at this very moment. Do you really think that Moratuwas Engineering faculty will be able to check those designs, verify them and correct them one by one.

    Of course not.

    Then how do they do it?.
    I should say, for that they should have a proper design specifications, design standards and checking and approval procedure. If the host country does not have that expertise, then normally host country will appoint an international construction management company to oversee the project.

    The way things are reported here, Sri Lankans have a basic problem of reacting to comments and compiling events of lessens leaned for future quality improvement.

    I sincerely hope that government should develop and implement a set of STANDARDS AND RECOMMENDED PRACTICE for high way development similar to the one developed for the Trans European Motorway.
    http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans/main/tem/temdocs/TEM-Std-Ed3.pdf
    and also include individual comments like Aloys concern and incorporate the correct procedure.

    For any project, we have to get it correct first time. Otherwise costs and schedule will go for a six

  23. Raj Says:

    Phew!. reading the comments and the article by ‘pundits'(not my word), I may now not want to use this road, because it appears to some foreign civil engineers that this road is dangerous!. On the other hand they haven’t even been in this road, so can’t be taken seriously. My worry is vehicles with worn tyres coupled with lack of experience in driving can skid across and cause accidents, and JVP and UNP will have another opportunity to whine about. Let the people enjoy driving at dogs’ expense. There won’t be dogs when I am thinking of visiting sri lanka and using the expressway. This road is not quite a motorway, it is an A road in Europe, and they don’t have to have a hardshoulder to accommodate a full width of a safety lane, as some people might think.

  24. AnuD Says:

    Even if there are mistakes or erros happened, if Sri Lankan Engineers did it, that is great work. Becuase, what ever they learn will be useful next time.

  25. Rasan Says:

    raju says…”as they had been made out of iron without re-enforcing them with concrete as stipulated.”..
    Obviously, this is a non-technical statement .Raju, how do you reinforce iron with concrete? ha ha. It appears that you are not qualified to comment on this highly technical matter.

    raju says.. “the solution was to re- enforce all such structures throughout the highway with concrete with cost of which bared out by the sub- contractor ( who now has been black listed…)”.
    They should have black listed main contractor as it was their responsibilty to make sure the job was done properly.There can be similar problems in road alignment also by engaging lousy road designers. So, Aloy has a point.

    Raju says…” plain and simple. YOU ARE WRONG. There is no bend problem…”
    Raju, you cannot be so sure that there is no bend problem,when you don’t know the difference between reinforcement and re-enforcement.

    Raju says.. it is because of people like you with your arrogance and desires for self importance coupled to a bizarre inferiority complex of finding FLAWS and FAULTS… ( this is disease affecting only Sinhalese driven by their own jealousies, selfishness and desires to show off..).

    Raju, it appears you are describing yourself.Please do not use lanka web to insult others withtout having any idea about what they are commenting.It is obvious that you try to show off by poking your nose into things that you don’t understand.Leave it to the Professionals to discuss this matter(Dr. Padma, Aloy and NeelaMahaYoda and others).It appears Aloy has worked in Road Development Authority. So, he may be genuinely interested in having a good road network in Sri Lanka.
    Rasan

  26. aloy Says:

    Anud,
    I do not agree with you. Several governments were involved in this project as far as I know. We are not talking about peanuts here. They have committed all Sri Lankans for a huge sum of $800m with good intention as this road is so important to the economy and well-being of our people. So it is up to engineers to ensure that we get it first time right. They are not babes. They have gone through the process of training in their field and have reach that position after getting sufficient experience. So those in charge should have made sure that international contractors and consultants do not make blunders like designing and constructing 30 bridges with defects. One persons has already died. The consultants allowed the contractor to carryout defective asphalt overlay on a stretch of 6km as reported in papers recently. We cannot allow such things to happen and still say this is great work done by our engineers.
    The standards of workmanship have deteriorated drastically in our country. I have seen myself recently asphalt being laid in pouring rain several time in Colombo area. At my time in RCDC my assistant was reprimanded by the chairman for sending premix without a tarpaulin cover from the asphalt plant when there was no rain anywhere in the country. So these international contractors and consultants must have thought about the adage- when in Rome do as Romans do.

  27. radha Says:

    As a system engineer, I should say that we need to take an overview of this situation. I can say that Alloy and his camp is making a good technical point, but at the same time Raju and Co too is also making a valid point from a PR and marketing viewpoint. Unfortunately they are making their points known from two polarised positions.

    Let us say that there is an issue involved with the design of the road adjacent to the curves. If there is one, it is a matter of detail, and sooner or later it ought to be sorted out. Raju’s viewpoint is the fact that Sri Lanka has done a project of this scale, presumably to time and cost, which in itself is an achievement considering what the state of country was before 2009. With a fledgling economy, we are doing our best to take large strides of development (in Sri Lankan scale) and that there is political will, in-house and overseas technical resources, and thankfully funding to get these things done. Thus, overall the highway project is a success, and there is no need to knock down everything and everybody connected to the project, on account of some technical shortcomings that may be critical at tactical level but only minor in the strategic level.

    This is the classic conflict featured in text books regarding project management, when each expert is promoting their case at the expense of the welfare of the project . In this situation it is a good thing to stop talking about own technical points, and to listen to what the other side is saying. This is mainly to understand why communication between different well-wishers of the same project is failing. If one is talking, fully focussed and defending one’s own corner, then they cannot be listening. May I therefore ask the debating parties to give this a pause and apply some psychology to the problem.

    Lanka web is really a place for discussing current affairs; opening the road as a project to time and cost is current affairs, and it is quite reasonable to discuss it here. However, the details that Alloy discussed are technical issues, which best ironed out in technical committees with like minded qualified experts. It is of course fair to raise the technical issue to highlight the need for national standards (aligned with international standards). But it is not necessary to knock the authorities as incompetent, because in fact they are not really incompetent people overall. Are they? In large projects, errors do occur for many reasons, one prominent reason is human fallibility; others simply due to lack of appreciation of a technical point due to the limitation of knowledge of the people, of resource and time pressures.

    To give just one example from high tech, high cost projects, not even the mighty Boeing Company got their designs perfectly correct first time in the recent times, as we know that Boeing 787 was two or three years behind schedule because Boeing did not get the wing to fuselage joint correct first time. This error needed expensive corrections as well as Boeing having to face significant law suits from some signed up customers. At the end everyone learnt from this sort of shortfalls that occur, and they come out of it well, despite setbacks.

    Post-war, new era Sri Lanka will continue to go through the same sort of birth pains with development projects, and she will come out well at the end. So, fellow citizens, and well wishers, please stop fighting in public and design your comments to make them palatable to the others in your team.

  28. Raju Says:

    Radha you summarised things well.
    My comments have been the harshest and I apologise for that.

    Aloysius is no doubt genuine in his concerns.

    However the massive amount of whining, negativity and almost scornful spitting that has been present surrounding this vital project in the media is just shameful. (I am not referring to Alyious’s piece here, but what has been written and printed everywhere else).

    There is so much negativity and unbelievable amount of “putting down” Sri Lanka as though nothing can be done, where in the case of the expressway clearly it has been done very well.

    With this climate of negativity that seems to exist regarding the expressway it boils down to a “why did we bother with it anyway”.

    The country gets nowhere as a result of this attitude ever present over pretty much anything.

    Most pointless is the continuous recalling of the incident over a year ago (nearly two) where an underpass collapsed and a young boy unfortunately died. Bringing this up time and time again makes it sound as though the underpass is still in a collapsed state and the innocent persons body is still buried in the rubble. This issue was investigated and solved. Can we just let it go? Accidents and errors do happen in constructions all over the world.

    And here is a video of the expressway “in action”. You can truly appreciate the engineering and the scenery (though the driver has decided to speed and show it off):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaK-HyVfltQ

  29. aloy Says:

    Dear Raju,
    As someone said, I am not an economic migrant. I have sent every cent of my savings to Sri Lanka without depositing them in banks in other countries. I have helped several Sri Lankan Engineer’s to find employment here and I am sure they too are remitting their savings back to our motherland. So, you can see we are helping our country’s economy even in a small way.

    I am a great admirer of the development work done by the present government. I sent a letter to H.E the President, one and a half years before the war ended, saying that his name would go into history as I was sure he was going to do it. I am happy that I got a reply for that letter.

    Several Governments tried to construct Colombo- Katunayake express way,without success. Ultimately, it is the present government that managed to get it going. I consider this as a great achievement and have never attempted to criticize the good work.

    My intention of writing to Lakaweb, is to correct design problems ( if there is any), and to prevent any future criticism of good work done by the government.

    I wish to stop at this point and if I have hurt anybody’s feelings, I apologise for that.

  30. shalomchaver Says:

    I do not have the expertise to comment on the subject of discussion. However, reading some of the comments on this thread I felt it would be helpful to share with my esteemed ‘commenters’ a few guidelines on making good arguments:

    1. Know your facts
    If you don’t fully understand or know the subject of discussion, do all you can to learn about it so that you are well-positioned to make your challenge.

    2. Avoid personal attacks
    Attack the argument by all means but NOT the person.

    A good quotation that I read:
    “It’s valid to say that someone obviously misunderstands an issue, but not to say that he or she must be stupid not to understand it. (There’s a difference.) If you stick to the high road while your adversary throws mud at you, smart people (the ones you want to impress) will take note.”

    Control your first impulse to respond emotionally to someone and don’t stoop to personal insults. Chances are that you will feel silly re-reading what you wrote after you have cooled down.

    3. Stay respectful at all times
    Even if you take issue with someones response to your comment, you are never in a position to know or fully understand their motives.

    You can’t control what another might choose to day, but you will be respected if you stay on subject, be gracious, give people the benefit of the doubt and always retain a sense of perspective.

    Finally, it is clear that everyone has the best interest of Sri Lanka at heart.
    May this highway be a blessing to all her inhabitants! :)

  31. Dinesh Says:

    Regarding Raju’s comment about dogs coming onto the expressway – “they’ll stop coming when they realise its dangerous”.

    So you mean they will come, almost get run over a few times and then they will stop coming? (Because that is how dogs learn….through negative reinforcement). Maybe a few will die because they are too slow….oh well.
    Meanwhile, what about the vehicles? What happens when there is a steady stream of vehicles going at 80 to 100kph and then sudden you come across a dog that has snuck in? Its the vehicles I’d be worried about, not the dogs.

    I dont think anybody expected the RDA to run around chasing the dogs. Its more a matter of making the road inaccessible to dogs.
    Anyway, time will tell how the expressway will workout. It might be a great piece of engineering which will take SL further. On the other hand there may be many accidents and we will need to fix these issues.

    There is no point having major arguments and hurling insults at unknown people all over the world. I am sure that any points raised in the article were from concern and technical interest. In any case people are free to voice their opinion and we must learn to take constructive criticism without being nasty.

    For me, the main learning point from the above conversations is this: we need to learn from criticism instead of overreacting and turning on each other. We need to work together to solve our problems.

  32. ananda4530 Says:

    In Australia, transition curves are not commenly use for highway designs. Transition curves mostly used in Railway track designs. If adequate super-elevation development provided before full super-elevation, that is sufficient for smooth transition from normal crossfall to full super-elevation. I do not know why Aloysius is arguing the requirement of transition curve (spiral curve) before start of full curve. It is better if designer could provide it. But that is not a must. Most road designs in Australia starts with using Autocad concept design (2D design) and then develop it to 3D using software packages such as MX, 12D, Civil 3d or Inroads. Widely used software is MX & 12D. Using master control strings, designers develop road carriageways & other necessary parts of the road. 3D software has facility to check any problems with vertical alignments as well as sight distance problems with horizontal curves. I do not know whether RDA designers check the design contours of the road to check aquaplaning problem on the surface during wet weather condition (water layer thickness on the road). That can be a major problem in motorways, because of high speed using during wet weather. Reacent accident happened during wet condition and water on the road surface can be a major factor for loss control rather than inadequate super elevation or lack of transition curve. If drivers use excessive speed than design speed, then these type of accidents can be happen. There are no single highway in the world built for unlimited speed for all weather conditions. The posted speed for Southern Highway is 100kmph & I think it has built for that speed. If someone ignored it, they have to take the results for their actions.

  33. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    Ananda4530
    You are completely wrong.
    Refer to Autralian standardsThe Guide to Road Design – Part 3: Section 7 HORIZONTAL ALIGNMENT 7.5.4 Transition Curves
    Geometric Design contains guidance that provides road designers and other practitioners with information that is common to the geometric design of road alignments. Road designers have to consider many factors and disciplines that may affect, or be affected by, the design of roads and intersections. Part 3 covers topics that are common to geometric design such as operating speed, sight distance, horizontal and vertical geometry, including the coordination of those two elements and consideration of cross-section element. The information in this guide generally replaces that which was previously provided in the Austroads Urban and Rural Road Design Guides (Austroads 2002b and Austroads 2003).

    The information below is the requirement of of Western Australia.
    http://www2.mainroads.wa.gov.au/internet/standards/rtems/geometric_design/roadways/alignment.asp
    Aloy and Rasan – Please comment

  34. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    Aloy and Rasan
    Both of you are very valuable to Sri Lanka. Sooner or later President will realise the mistakes his subordinates are making with the help of these supporters like Raju and Geoff who doesn’t even have clue what they are talking about. These guys, are like monkeys, just come forward to oppose any critics thinking they are safeguarding the interests of the government. But in the long run, they are helping the opposition parties like UNP and JVP to score some points if all future projects ended up in utter failures. Note that the funds for these highway development projects are coming from foreign banks. If we don’t have a proper Quality Improvement Advisories notifying all engineering units and outside organizations involved with the project delivery process of problems that have occurred previously and notification of efforts to minimize impacts to the project delivery schedules as well as avoiding unanticipated costs associated with project changes, we might not get any help from foreign banks for future projects. This is one of the requirement not only for third world countries but for developed countries as well under ISO 9001;2008. QIA’s also include possible solutions and a means to alert others of information learned that may prove beneficial when incorporated under similar circumstances. Ministry of Highways should really look at these valuable constructive criticism that are originating from experts rather than listening to these clueless (Word deleted by Moderator).

 

 


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