Work is set to begin shortly on the $160m fourth and the last stretch of the ongoing Southern Highway project in Sri Lanka.

The 30km stretch extending from Pinnaduwa in Galle to Godagama in Matara will be expanded to four lanes and will link the country’s south with capital city Colombo.

The stretch construction is being funded by China.

The total Rs 70,000m ($1.4bn) Southern Highway project involves building a 126km road to link Colombo with Matara.

The first three phases of the project are underway and are being funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Japan Business Corporation (JBIC).

The first phase comprises the 34.3km Kottawa-Dodangoda road, the second phase is the 31.7km Dodangoda-Kurundugahahetekma road and the third phase is the 30km Kurundugahahetekma-Pinnaduwa road.

Once completed in 2010, the highway will cut travel time between Southern areas and Colombo to 1 hour 30 minutes as opposed to the current four hours.