The Dhaka-Northwest international trade corridor is being upgraded by Bangladesh’s Road and Highways Department, as part of a multi-dimensional plan aimed at upgrading 1,752km of the nation’s highways.

Running 260km through northwest Bangladesh, the international trade corridor forms a part of the Asian highway network. It handles 60% of Bangladesh’s freight movements and 70% of passenger traffic, which is growing at an 8% rate.

The upgrade project will improve transport access to Burimari Land Port, which provides a link to Bhutan via India. The construction is divided into two phases, with phase one estimated to cost $314.7m and phase two estimated to cost $1.2bn.

In addition to the trade corridor upgrade, a number of other upgradation projects are being undertaken under the multi-dimensional plan with the aim of improving the transport efficiency. Some of the projects include the development of Bangabandhu and Padma bridges, and upgradation of Dhaka-Chittagong transport corridor.

Purpose and phases of the international trade corridor upgrade

The Dhaka-Northwest corridor is the second busiest road in Bangladesh after the Dhaka-Chittagong road.  The upgrade project will convert the existing two-lane highway to a four-lane highway, with lanes on both the sides for slow-moving vehicular traffic.

The project aims to increase the road capacity, improve operational efficiency along the Benapole and Burimari land ports, and enhance the institutional capacity of the Road and Highways Department of Bangladesh.

“The Dhaka-Northwest corridor is the second busiest road in Bangladesh after the Dhaka-Chittagong road.”

Phase one of the project will upgrade the 70km section between Joydevpur and Elenga road through Chandra and Tangail. Construction on phase one began in September 2015 and is expected to be completed by 2025.

Phase two will be a 190km-long section from Elenga road to Rangapur road via Hatikumrul, and is expected to be completed by 2027.

Design and construction details

The carriageway on each side will have a width of 7.3m with a 1.2m median and a 1m-wide shoulder on either side. The widening will be largely left-aligned, and either right or left aligned in certain sections.

The road is designed for speeds up to 80km/h, but the permissible speed is up to 70km/h.

The construction scope of phase one includes four flyovers at Konibari Market, Sahafipur Bazar, Chandra Intersection and Elanga Bazaar, and seven overpasses at Kaliakor bypass road crossing, Dhamrai-Kalikor intersection, Mirzapur-Kumarja intersection, Korotia-Dedlur intersection and Tangail bypass road crossing.

It also includes construction of a railway overpass at Shohagpor railway/road crossing, and 61 culverts and 27 bridges, three of which will be more than 100m-long.

Phase two construction will include three flyovers at Elanga intersection, Koddar Moor intersection and Bogra, 39 underpasses, one interchange and one railway overpass. It will also include 11 pedestrian overpasses, 161 culverts, and 36 bridges, of which three will have a length exceeding 100m.

 Financing

 Phase one of the project is being funded by the Asian Development Bank through a $198m loan. The government of Bangladesh is providing $86.7m, while the OPEC Fund for International Development is investing $30m into the project.

The Asian Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the government of Bangladesh are collectively providing $472.6m for the phase two.