The Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) is undertaking soil and rock testing along an eight-kilometre dual carriage corridor cutting through Meru town in preparation for construction of the road.
KeNHA upper eastern regional manager Albert Semutwa said the exercise would inform final designs expected to be completed by March, with floating for the tenders following soon after in readiness for launch of construction in October.
“What you have seen going on is material testing that will help engineers as they come up with final designs,” Mr Semutwa said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Leaders in Meru have said they will push the government to source for funds for the road estimated to cost Sh5 billion when President Uhuru Kenyatta visits the county later this month.
Construction of the dual carriage will see demolition of several high value buildings along the route, with Mr Simutwa assuring affected developers that they will be compensated in accordance with the law.
Dualling of the road is expected to improve traffic movement in a town logistics experts predict will become a transport hub in the upper eastern region, given its strategic location between Nairobi and Isiolo where a resort city will be built in the Sh2.5 trillion Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset) corridor project.
The dual carriage will also provide space for pedestrians as well as foot bridges, said Charles Njogu, KeNHA assistant director of corporate communications.
“The Existing road is currently a single carriageway bitumen road with shoulder on majority of the sections with no adequate provision of non-motorised traffic (NMT) along the project road section,” he said.
The road will connect both the eastern and western bypasses in what is believed to be the solution to frequent traffic snarl-ups in Meru town which has become a transit point with the growth of Isiolo and Nanyuki towns.
A four-kilometre dual carriage will be built from Makutano where there will be an interchange, to Ruiri junction along the Meru-Maua road, connecting with the eastern bypass. It will also ease traffic flow along the road which is a short cut to Isiolo airport.
Currently, it takes motorists travelling from Embu to Nanyuki or the Meru National park at least two hours to cover a distance of five kilometres from Gikumene through the town to Gitoro, near the Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) show ground.
Both the eastern and western bypasses originate at Gikumene – two kilometres from Meru town along the Meru-Embu road – and have been built by the Kenya Urban Roads Authority’s (KURA) at a cost of Sh3 billion.