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Southern Expressway the Path way to the emerging wonder of Asia

Southern Express Way or Route number E 1will be ceremonially opened by the H.E.the president Mahinda Rajapaksha on November 27. Southern Expressway is the Sri Lanka’s first fee-levying highway and the first expressway in Sri Lanka and it is the longest expressway out of proposed expressway network. This high way is a part of an ambitious project to connect Bandaranaike International Airport with Mattala Airport in Hambantota.

The Southern Highway project was divided into two sections for financing purposes. The first phase of the highway which has been fully constructed is runs from Kottawa to Matara (126 km) and also includes Galle Fort Access road. Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan Bank of International Corporation (JBIC) are the main funding agencies for this project. Section from Kottawa to Kurundugahahetekma (65 km) was undertaken by JBIC and section from Kurundugahahetekma to Godagama, Matara (64.8 km) was undertaken by ADB. The next 30-kilometre phase which is to end by 2013, will extend the highway from Galle to Matara, while the third stage will take it from Matara to Mattala Airport in Hambantota, the Minister said. Government surveyors have already begun to survey the land from Matara to Hambantota, to acquire land for the highway, which would be a six-lane road.

Project Objectives

  • Improve transport facilities for future development of Southern Region.
  • Provide a highway to act as a catalyst in encouraging and attracting industries and services for the

Economic and Social development of the region.

  • To promote inter-regional transport facilities by developing this road, considering it as a major

Component of the proposed Expressway network.

Current Travel Time Expected Travel Time on Expressway
Colombo – Matara 4 1/2 – 5 hrs 2 hrs
Colombo – Galle 3 1/2 – 4 hrs Less than
1 1/2 hrs


Benefits of the Project

  • Reduce travel time between Colombo to Matara.
  • Reduce traffic congestion on Colombo-Matara Road, and reduce delay costs, fuel costs there by

Contributing to national economy.

  • Attract private sector investors and there by contributing to expand the job market
  • Development of fisheries, agriculture, industries in the region.
  • Expand tourism presently confined to the coastal belt, along Colombo-Galle-Matara.
  • Development of Galle port.
  • Development of the towns belong to 11 interchanges as Economic Centers
  • Enhance the value of land and property in the region


Kottawa (0+000) 23rd km of the High level road (Colombo Rathnapura Road)
Kahatuduwa (5+900) 19th km of the Colombo  Horana Road
Gelanigama (13+600) 12th km of the Panadura Nambapana Rathnapura Road
Dodangoda (34+700) 08th km of the Nagoda – Matugama Road (Nagoda Kalawellawa Bellapitiya)
Welipanna (46+000) 43rd km of the Horana Anguruwathota Aluthgama Road
Kurundugahetekma (66+000) 13th km of the Ambalangoda – Elpitiya Road
Baddegama (14+800) 12th km of the Hikaduwa- Badegama- Nilhena Road
Pinnaduwa (30+000)


Toll charges

Toll charges will be levied under 4 segments for all vehicles.

Category 1: Cars, dual purpose vehicles and light motor trucks

Category 2: Light Motor Coaches including passenger transporting vans with more than nine seats and passenger                         transporting buses with between nine and thirty three seats.

Category 3:Heavy vehicles, including buses with more than 33 passenger seats, lorries and trucks with two axles                         and six wheels and lorries and trucks with three axles.

Category 4: Heavy vehicles including heavy motor coaches and heavy motor lorries with four axles.


Category Interchange
Kottawa-Kahathuduwa Kottawa-Gelanigama Kottawa-Dodangoda Kottawa-Welipanna Kottawa-Kurundugahetekma Kottawa-Baddegama Kottawa-Pinnaduwa
1 Rs.100 Rs.150 Rs.200 Rs.250 Rs.300 Rs.350 Rs.400
2 Rs.200 Rs.200 Rs.400 Rs.400 Rs.600 Rs.600 Rs.700
3 Rs.300 Rs.300 Rs.600 Rs.700 Rs.1,000 Rs.1,200 Rs.1,500
4 Rs.400 Rs.400 Rs.800 Rs.1,000 Rs.1,500 Rs.1,800 Rs.2,000


Toll collecting centers would operate 24 hours a day. Tickets would be issued for vehicles at entry points, while road users would have to pay the toll fees at the exit points of the Expressway. Arraignments have been made to introduce an electronic card system for vehicle users of the Southern Highway to settle their toll fees under the second stage.

Bus fare from Kottawa to Galle will cost Rs.380 per passenger.

Rules and Regulations

  • Pedestrians will be strictly prohibited from entering the highway, while those who do so will be fined Rs. 5,000.
  • Bicycles, Motorcycles, Three wheelers  and Tractors are not allowed to enter to the high way.
  • Maximum speed on the highway is 100 km/hr. Those exceeding the speed limit will be charged for violation.
  • Overtaking is to be from the right hand side.
  • No billboards will be allowed on the highway, as they would distract drivers which could lead to accidents.
  • Litter thrown from moving vehicles too will be strictly monitored and offenders fined.
  • The motorists will be required to travel with their shutters closed at all times.
  • Seat belt rule too will be strictly enforced.
  • In case a vehicle stalls on the road, motorists are advised to switch on their hazard lights and call the emergency number 1989, following which a breakdown vehicle patrolling the road 24-hours, will arrive promptly.

Safety measures and Facilities

  • A 1.7 metre lane has been designated on the side of the road for motorists to pull over in case of an emergency.
  • All road signs have been clearly displayed overhead in all three languages for the convenience of motorists.
  • One filling station is situated along the highway, which is also a place for motorists to take a break. It consists of a few shops and toilet facilities.
  • The hotline will help the motorists of the Expressway to get access to accident service, fire brigade, ambulance and police. The division will consist with nearly 500 personnel equipped with modern cars, motorbikes, jeeps, ambulances, bowsers, two trucks and fire trucks.

Sandun W

Sandun joined Lanka Help Magazine as a contributor in June, 2011. He has been consistently writing articles to our magazine. Many useful articles of this site are under Sandun's name.

2 thoughts on “Southern Expressway the Path way to the emerging wonder of Asia

  1. all expressways whether they are in Sri Lanka or outside change the way of life. The more important question is whether the change is for the better or worse.
    Passing people at 80 kmh is not the most socially developed idea!
    When I brought my children on holiday to Sri Lanka for the first time what impressed them most was the ability to stop for a thambili when they were thirsty.
    In the “developed” UK when the children are thirsty on a long journey they either drink from a bottle of water we carry or stop at a motorway services and pay £2 for a 150 ml of water.
    Hands up anyone who can answer which of the two scenarios shows a developed country?

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