Tuesday, July 14, 2009

the bandra-worli sea link (rajiv gandhi setu)

last sunday when i was returning from the airport my driver had a good suggestion. why not drive over the new bridge he asked. and there is no toll to be paid,he added. that was enough motivation for me to ask him to go ahead and go straight from the point where one normally takes a left turn to go to south mumbai via mahim. after all,i had read so much about this new bridge(5.6 kms long) that i wanted to experience the feel of cruising along this one of its kind sea link which has cost the exchequer Rs 1600 crores and which took ten years to make as it was mired in controversy almost from day 1.the bridge weighs a staggering 250,000 tonnes! i must say that it was an exhilarating experience.the fantastic view of the skyscrapers and the sea around you gives you a feeling as if you were on a cruise.

firstly, it is an engineering marvel.hats off to our engineers and hcc for having done such a good job.secondly,it is very functional and aesthetically pleasing to the eyes.only four lanes have come up now another four are to be added and then the worli-haji ali link has to be completed.once all this is finished,it will cut driving time very substantially from bandra to mumbai downtown. a speed limit of 50 km/hour has been enforced on the sea link.the whole distance takes about 8 minutes in normal traffic and four minutes if the traffic is less as i experienced it on monday when i was heading for the airport to take a flight to bhubaneshwar.the inlet and outlet points become bottlenecks as the traffic slows down substantially while approaching and exiting.

i have experienced the difference in kolkata when the vidyasagar setu was commissioned. earlier we had to cross the howrah bridge every day while going to work at andul road in howrah and even take the ferry many times to cross the hooghly river due to perennial traffic jam on the bridge. now,going over to howrah is a breeze. the rajiv gandhi setu is also likely to provide similar relief to harried motorists coming in to the fort area from the western suburbs.

there is considerable scope to reduce the pressure on the roads and local railways by using the waterways for transportation.though such ideas have been discussed many times in various fora,no proper feasibility study seems to have been done for making it economically viable. or is it caught in the usual bureaucratic red tape? i only hope that this idea too sees the light of the day soon.we must explore this option before rushing to construct an underground railway system.

let us hope that the second half of the sea link with connector to worli gets ready soon.estimates are that it might take 18 months for the 1.6 km connector to be fully operational.

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