Sri Lanka’s nineteenth-century highway infrastructure received a long-overdue upgrade in late 2011 with the opening of the country’s first genuine motorway, the E1 Southern Expressway from Colombo to Galle. The Expressway has transformed access to the west and south coasts, cutting the journey time to Galle from around three hours or more to just one, as well as giving speedy access to other popular tourist spots en route.

The Expressway starts in Kottawa in southern Colombo and finishes on the coast, just east of Galle city centre, with seven intersections en route giving access to Kalutara, Aluthgama, Ambalangoda, Hikkaduwa and other destinations. A toll of Rs.400 is levied to travel the entire length of the highway, with reduced tolls for shorter journeys. An extension of the highway from Colombo to the international airport is expected to open in 2013, while further extensions to Matara and Hambantota are also planned, as is a second expressway from Colombo to Kandy.

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