Highways Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle last week reported to cabinet that work on the US$ 300 million Colombo-Kandy Expressway will begin soon, officials said.
This new road will enable a one-hour drive between Colombo and Kandy and is expected to substantially improve the hill capital`s tourism potential.
It was reported that construction work is likely to be undertaken by a consortium of Malaysian companies experienced in building highways linking Kuala Lumpur to the Malaysian hinterland.
Former Malaysian Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, widely regarded as the architect of modern Malaysia, who was in Sri Lanka some months ago advised the government to quickly begin work on two super highway projects ? Colombo-Katunayake and Colombo-Kandy to facilitate both tourism and development.
Fernandopulle was in Kuala Lumpur last week and had a meeting with Public Works Minister Samy Velu. During this visit, he signed a memorandum of understanding with the Malaysian authorities for building the Colombo-Kandy Expressway in which a consortium of Malaysian companies will invest US$ 300 million.
The new Expressway will be a toll road and is likely to be undertaken on a BOO (Build, Operate and Own) basis, governmental sources said.
The new road which will link Katunayake with Kandy will cut through Divulapitiya and Gampaha where land acquisition has already been completed.
From Gampaha the highway will continue along the existing road up to Rambukkana from where it will go via Hataraliyadde in the Galagedera electorate to Aludeniya in Harispattuwa and join the entrance to Kandy at Katugastota where a new bridge across the Mahaweli is already under construction.
President Mahinda Rajapakse recently inaugurated work on the new Katugastota bridge some weeks ago.
The Business Standard newspaper reported that Fernandopulle had told cabinet that there are a few obstacles to overcome to speed up the project. A further US$ 30 million to compensate land owners is needed, he said and he was negotiating a soft loan from Malaysia to get the project off the ground as soon as possible.