Road: From the divider iron mesh fencing to hedge plantation to the change in name itself, the Thimphu-Babesa expressway has seen numerous makeovers over the years.

It became an expensive affair for Thimphu thromde to maintain iron mesh fencing that cost Nu 1,797 a metre. The mesh fencing was placed as divider to keep away animals and to prevent accidents in 2008 because speeding occurred on the broad lanes of the expressway.

This year (until July) 24 motor accidents occurred on the expressway. There had been 51 accidents on the road in 2014 and 81 in 2013.

The iron mesh fence on the expressway was removed in May last year before the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Since then the 6.2km road was open to pedestrians to cross from anywhere, causing inconvenience to drivers and increasing the risk of accidents.

This prompted thromdes to come up with new solution. To make it easier for people to cross expressway, thromde created 11 speed breakers of four inches high from the road level and zebra crossing along the Thimphu-Babesa road. The road also got a new name in August last year – urban road network. Speed breaker and zebra crossing cost thromde Nu 86,480 each.

The idea of expressway was born from increasing congestion on the 6.2-kilometer stretch from Babesa to Lungtenzampa. The roads department proposed a four-lane expressway, which was approved by the council of ministers in January 2000.

The government of India funded the construction of the expressway. Bhutan government spent Nu 79M for land acquisition, compensation and relocation of public utility services. About 26 acres of land belonging to 90 owners fell under the expressway, including 20 acres of wetland.

The cost of expressway construction rose from Nu 222 million to Nu 450 million with inclusion of three bridges over Thimchhu, Simtokhachhu and Olarongchhu.

Upon completion, 6.2-kilometer road was heavily criticized for lapses.  Numerous potholes appeared soon after and the road sank at various points. According to Royal Audit Authority’s 2007 report, the road was overpriced and did not meet the standard.

Recently, thromdes planted four types of sapling along the divider. And now, there will be pedestrian underpass instead of speed bumps. Thromde will construct four pedestrian underpasses that will cost thromde Nu 10M. It cost thromde Nu 700,000 to replace the sand with soil for the plantation.

Dechen Tshomo