If you’re not doing fine, call 1969.
The Southern Expressway (E01) served 6,000 vehicles in its first 18 hours, collecting Rs. 1.5 million in tolls and seeing one accident. As the latter shows, for this highway, it’s important to read the manual. The RDA has been running ads in all the papers, I noticed when I wiped my face with one at the lunch kade. Here are some of the relevant instructions republished.
Who Can Go
Cars, trucks and buses only. “Pedestrians, Three Wheelers, Motor Cycles, Tractors and Bicycles are not permitted to enter the Expressway.” The cars that do go have to basically be functioning cars. One thing to pay attention to is the tires. If they’re worn out they do burst, this has happened to me at low speed, at high speed this is disastrous. Another is wheel balancing, the steering wheel used to shake about 80k until I got the wheel’s balanced.
How Much (Toll Charges)
The E01, though not quite built as such, is a toll road. Hence you need cash, preferably exact, when you enter any interchange. The rates for ordinary vehicles are shown here. It’s pretty cheap. The manual takes care to specify that people should enter the right ramp, not make U-Turns when entering, and keep the ticket stub because you’ll need it to exit.
Where (On Earth Are These Places)
The image at right shows you what destinations these largely unknown interchanges connect to. My first question was ‘where is Kottawa?’ It’s just past Maharagama, so you can take the High Level Road (which essentially begins as Havelock Road) all the way. During traffic time this is a hellacious drive, FYI. You can also access the interchange through Battaramulla/Pannipitiya way, but that always confuses me.
The other option is to connect to the Kahatuduwa interchange, which is near Horana. You can connect to the Colombo-Horana road from Nugegoda, it runs through Boralesgamuwa. This road effectively begins as Dutugemunu Street in Pamankada.
Both High Level and the Horana Road effectively start in Pamankada (inland Wellawatte, essentially) and run parallel for a while.
What the other interchanges mean is somewhat explained in the graphic. Basically, if you want to go to Hikka, get off in Baddegama. If you want to go to Una, get off in Pinnaduwa.
What To Do In Emergencies
Basically, pull over to the nearest milepost, call 1969 (Summer Of 69?) and wait for help. The emergency lane is so narrow that you’re not even supposed to get out of the car except in emergencies. So basically, stop, put hazards on, call, wait.
For reference, the maximum speed is 100k, and you should leave much more than a cars length between yourself and the guy in front of you. It can take hundreds of meters to fully stop, so stay well behind. Definitely don’t drive drunk or on the phone, and if you’re feeling tired, just pull off at the nearest interchange and sleep. Habits that have no place here include U-Turns, asking for directions, stopping to pee, etc.