The government has proposed building three tunnel gateways in the Kathmandu valley. The Department of Roads has started work to conduct feasibility studies for the planned routes of Nagdhunga-Naubise, Kulekhani-Bhimphedi and Tokha-Gurju in Nuwakot. The planned tunnels are targeted at reducing travel distance and time.
The government has put two tunnel projects in the priority list in the budget for the current fiscal year. The budget had announced initiating work on constructing tunnels linking Nagdhunga-Naubise and Bhimphedi-Hetauda as early as possible.
Department officials said that the feasibility studies would be completed within the current fiscal year. The studies will determine the estimated cost and propose at least two alignments for each tunnel. Chandra Kumar Subedi, unit chief of the Road and Traffic Unit of the department, said that they were evaluating the consultants to assign the work of feasibility study. “We plan to prepare detailed project reports of at least two tunnels in the next fiscal based on the feasibility study,” he added.
The Nagdhunga-Naubise tunnel is estimated to be around 3-4 km long. It is aimed at shortening travel time to the valley and smoothening motor traffic entering Kathmandu. According to the department, the Tokha-Gurju tunnel will be around 2 km long and it is envisaged to improve traffic movement to and from Rasuwa. Similarly, the Kulekhani-Bhimphedi tunnel will be around 3.5 km long and is focused on reducing the distance and travel time to Hetauda.
Subedi said that the feasibility studies would come up with the exact length needed to be constructed. The government has been planning to construct a tunnel linking Kulekhani-Bhimphedi for a long time, however, work on the project has not progressed at the anticipated speed. The department has earmarked Rs 1.5 million to do the feasibility studies of the three tunnel roads.
According to the department, the private sector is also showing interest in constructing the Kulekhani-Bhimphedi tunnel to cut the road distance between Kathmandu and Hetauda to 50 km. The feasibility study would determine the cost and possibility of construction and financial returns from it, no matter whether the public or the private sector constructs it.
The private sector has been planning to construct the Kathmandu-Hetauda Tunnel Highway using the Kulekhani-Bhimphedi tunnel under a new concept of investment “4P”— private, public, people and partnership sectors. The highway is estimated to cost Rs 20 billion. Currently, people travelling to Hetauda have to take the Tribhuvan Highway that is 133 km long or the Kathmandu-Mugling-Hetauda route that is 227 km long.(Source:ekantipur)