Expressways are similar to motorways with lesser access restrictions and are owned, maintained and operated either federally or provincially.
As of September 2012, operational motorways in Pakistan had a combined length of 679.5 km with another 278 km under construction. Another 1,200 km of motorways and expressways are planned over the next 10 years.
Pakistan’s motorways are either 6 or 4 lanes, with all 4-lane motorways upgradable to 6-lanes as traffic on them increases.
Pakistan’s motorways have a universal minimum speed limit of 60 km/h and a maximum speed limit of 110 km/h for heavy transport vehicles and 120 km/h for light transport vehicles. In sections of the motorway that pass through hilly or mountainous terrain, the minimum and maximum speed limits are reduced.
Access to Pakistan’s motorways is restricted to fast moving vehicles only, including high-performance heavy bikes. The motorways are fenced on either side for safety and prevention of unauthorized access by pedestrians, animals and slow-moving vehicles. Pedestrians, bicycles, low-performance motorcycles, animal-driven carriages and other slow-moving vehicles are not permitted on the motorways.
Toll plazas are located on all entry and exit points of Pakistan’s motorways and are equipped with a computerized tolling system. Computerized entry cards with magnetic strips are issued at entry points and tolls are levied at exit points depending on vehicle category and distance travelled.
All motorways in Pakistan are pre-fixed with the letter “M” (for “Motorway”) followed by the unique numerical designation of the specific motorway. Each numerical designation is separated by a single numeral, i.e. M-1, M-2, M-3, etc. Expressways are pre-fixed with the letter “E”.
Pakistan’s third motorway, the 155 km 6-lane M-1
, linking Peshawar
with the federal capital, Islamabad, has been operational since 30 October 2007.
Pakistan’s first motorway, the 367 km 6-lane M-2
, connecting the cities of Islamabad
, was constructed by South Korea’s Daewoo Corporation and was inaugurated in November 1997 and was the first motorway to be built in South Asia.
The plan to construct Pakistan’s second motorway, the 54 km 4-lane M-3
, linking the Pindi Bhattian Junction on the M-2 with Faisalabad
was finalized in 1996 with an estimated cost of Rs. 8 billion. Initially, it was planned to have 6-lanes, however, due to the shortage of funds, it was decided reduce the number of lanes to 4 with an option to upgrade it to 6-lanes in future. Construction of the M-3 began in May 2002 and it was completed ahead of schedule in September 2003 at a cost of Rs 5.3 billion. It was inaugurated and opened for traffic on 2 October 2003. Two bridges, one over a railway track and the second on a canal, were constructed on the motorway, while two interchanges near Sahianwala and Faisalabad were constructed in the second phase.
Construction of Pakistan’s fourth motorway, the 233 km 4-lane M-4
, began on 19 August 2009. Once completed, it will link Multan
with the M-3 Motorway at Faisalabad.
The M-5 is a planned 80 km long, 4-lane motorway that will link Multan with Dera Ghazi Khan
. It will be constructed after the completion of the M-4 Motorway.
The M-6 is a planned 365 km long, 4 lane motorway that will link Dera Ghazi Khan with Ratodero
. It will be constructed after the completion of the M-5 Motorway.
The M-7 is a planned 270 km long, 4-lane motorway that will link Dadu
The 892 km 4-lane M-8
is under-construction in Sindh
and Balochistan provinces. Initially, it will have 2 lanes with a further 2 lanes planned. The 4 lane motorway will be upgradable to 6 lanes. Once completed it will directly link the port city of Gwadar
with the rest of Pakistan’s motorway network at Ratodero where it will link up with the M-6 Dera Ghazi Khan-Ratodero Motorway.
The current 4-lane Hyderabad
” is in the process of being upgraded into a 6-lane access-controlled motorway, designated the “M-9”. Expression of Interest (EOI) were invited by the National Highway Authority (NHA) in May 2011.
The NHA awarded the Rs. 24.93 billion contract to the Malaysian construction company, Bina Puri Holdings Bhd, on Built Operate Transfer (BOT) basis in January 2012.
The proposed 136-km long motorway will be completed in three years. The M-9 Motorway will have 7 interchanges, 2 service areas at the midway points and 16 toll plazas on entry and exit points.