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Addis Adaba Adama (Nazareth) Expressway, Ethiopia

Addis Adaba Adama (Nazareth) expressway is an under-construction expressway in Oromia Regional State, Ethiopia. It will be first expressway in Ethiopia and East Africa when complete, and also the first toll road in the nation. The new expressway connects the capital city Addis Adaba to Adama (Nazareth).

Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA) is the developer of the project and Chinese Communications Construction Company (CCCC) is the contractor. The project is estimated to cost $612m.

Construction of the expressway started on 21 April 2010 and is expected to finish by April 2014. The expressway will be able to accommodate 15,000 vehicles per day. The new route will help speed up the development of the country and provide job opportunities.

Addis Adaba Adama road project background and purpose

Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing nations in the world, but poor transportation facilities have become a bottleneck to the growth of agriculture in the country thereby affecting economic development. The Ethiopian Government has undertaken projects to improve the country’s transportation network. The government plans to complete 64,000km of road network by 2015.

The existing Addis Addaba Adama road carries 20,000 vehicles per day and is one of the busiest routes in the country. The road is heavily congested, which is causing frequent accidents. The new Addis Addaba Adama highway will help resolve these issues and contribute to fuel savings.

Prefeasibility studies were conducted for Adama Awash and Modjo Hawassa roads along with the Addis Abeba Adama road project. Addis Abeba Adama was given ultimate priority as the road is a segment of Addis Ababa to Djibouti Highway. Djibouti is the country’s hub for business, import and export activities.

Connection to Dijbouti port and Adama will boost the import and export sectors in the country. The new road also connects to Bale zone in Oromia Regional State, Dire Dawa, Somali region capital, Jijiga and Hawassa.

Project details of Addis Adaba Adama expressway

The Addis Adaba Adama expressway project is a part of five-year growth and transformation plan (GTP) of the Ethiopian Government. The 80km-long expressway is located in Oromia regional state.

The alignment starts from Tulu Dimtu. The main road of the expressway continues 2.8km along the proposed Addis Adaba outer ring road and then crosses Dukem, Bishoftu and Modjo on their east side. It then passes the existing Addis Adama road at 62km and bypasses around Adama on the south side. The expressway ends on the east side of Adama and connects to Adama Awash road.

The new six-lane, 12m-wide road will be constructed along a different route but will be placed adjacent to and 3.5km from the west side of the existing Addis Ababa Adama road.

The new road will be 20km shorter than the existing Addis Adaba Adama road, while the route will be fenced on either sides for protection from pedestrians and animals. Two design speeds of 100kmph and 120kmph are used for different sections of the road. The new route will have exit points for towns located between Addis Adaba and Adama.

New interchange roads will be constructed at Dukem, Akaki Bishoftu and Mojdo. The six-lane road is planned to be upgraded to eight lanes if required in the future.


The expressway has 18km of link road and 7.2km of frontage road on either side in Adama. The road work involves construction of six interchanges, three intersections, 77 slab culverts, 36 underpasses and 43 over passes. The 5.4m high overpasses are supported by 73t girders, reinforced concrete piers and stone structures. Pedestrians, agricultural vehicles and cars can use three of the underpasses.

The underpass for agricultural vehicles has a width of 4.5m and height of 3.2m. The pedestrian underpass will be 4.5m wide and 2.2m high. Car underpasses will be larger in size with 6.5m width and 4.5m height. Flood discharge will be used to size the culverts, which will be designed as per velocity, water scouring and water levels.

The project also includes construction of two main toll gates and 13 ramp toll gates.

According to ERA, approximately 50% of the construction work was finished as of September 2012. The expressway is expected to be finished six months before the scheduled date of 20 April 2014.

Traffic management and tolling on the Addis Adaba Adama expressway

The new route has introduced advanced technologies in the transportation sector of Ethiopia. The road network, with overpasses, underpasses and interchanges, needs sophisticated technologies, such as traffic management centre and intelligent transportation systems (ITS) for effective operation.

TS facilities such as traffic cameras and variable message signs (VMS) will enable effective traffic management and incident management control along with safe operations at the new complex road.

Tolling a road is also first time for the nation and is expected to be implemented in future on the Addis Adaba Adama expressway.

Toll gates will be installed at Addis Adaba and Adama, as well as at the six interchanges that will connect the new expressway with Dukem, Bishoftu and Modjo towns. The toll road will be constructed by CCCC in three sections. Each section will have toll gates at every 17km distance. The toll road will reduce the travel time to around 40 minutes from the average two hours between Addis Adaba and Adama.

Addis Adaba Adama expressway funding

The project is financed through $350m soft loan from Export-Import (Exim) Bank, with the remaining $262m coming from the Ethiopian Government.

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