The project corridor spans several major development projects and will interface with Bangladesh’s largest economic zone, a deep seaport, and military facilities. Agreement of the corridor’s alignment required a high level of coordination and engagement with a complex web of stakeholders.
A key challenge for the team was to align gaps in the topographical and geological information, whilst accurately assessing social and environmental impacts. Topographic and geotechnical conditions were particularly challenging because vast sections of the road will pass through tidal planes and wetlands, frequently subjected to cyclones and heavy rain.
SMEC initiated a drone based photogrammetric survey to scan remote sections of the alignment safely and efficiently. This provided the team with detailed topographical data that could be used to build a digital alignment model. SMEC then used the drone survey data to implement an intricate Geographic Information System using ArcGIS. The GIS map stitched together drone and satellite images to plot and visualise all social and environmental impact areas, as well as overlaying all interface projects.
A web-based GIS portal was established with intuitive, user-friendly tools to easily display different elements on a base map. This proved to be a highly useful tool for stakeholder engagement and project management because it provided a clear understanding of the interface and integration requirements. To test traffic flow, SMEC developed a simulated traffic model.
The expressway’s preliminary design features two dedicated freight traffic lanes; 4 fast lanes; 10 interchanges (with rest areas at 50-kilometre intervals); and numerous drainage structures. It also features bridges, culverts, coastal protection, and other hydraulic fixtures.
To gain further feedback on the viability of the proposed alignment, SMEC’s leadership team organised an open forum workshop in Cox’s Bazar, where state and private stakeholders were invited to participate in an interactive Q&A session.
Set to become Asia’s longest coastal highway, Marine Drive Expressway will improve the connectivity between two major cities (Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar) and enable sustained economic growth in one of Bangladesh’s most important development corridors. ‘Paving the way for future of Bangladesh’ the project team has proposed a modern design that matches international standards and global best practice.
Roads and Highways Department