Although very few motorists used the Santacruz-Chembur Link Road on its first day of operation, Friday being a holiday for most, commuters were by and large happy as it slashed their travel time between Eastern Express Highway and the western suburbs, and Bandra Kurla Complex, considerably.
The 3.5-km Link Road, known to be one of the most-delayed infrastructure projects in Mumbai, was opened to traffic on Friday morning without a formal inauguration as the model code of conduct was in place. The road was under construction for eleven years and had missed several deadlines.
While Monday would be a real test for the road as traffic was light on Friday, those commuters who used the road on Friday were satisfied as now they would be able to avoid the Sion junction and the congested and arterial Sion-Dharavi link road.
Rohidas Hadawale (40), a taxi driver, said, “Before the bridge was built, travelling to the western part would require us to go through Sion, which has several signals. This link road has reduced travel time significantly.”
While earlier it took around 1-1.5 hours to cover the distance between Santacruz and Chembur, commuters on Friday tweeted and posted messages on social media sites saying they were able to reach Chembur from the domestic airport in less than 30 minutes, and BKC in ten minutes.
Even as the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the implementing agency of the project, had put up signage for accessing the road, commuters initially faced confusion in figuring out which exits to take, and several vehicles had to take a U-turn on the link road.
Many were also confused about where the road ended on the Kalina side as the CST Road in Kurla, where the link road ends, has been narrowed down due to scrap dealers encroaching lanes on either side of the road. The Vakola bridge, which commuters will have to access to exit or join the link road, is also narrow as the civic body was unable to complete its reconstruction due to land acquisition issues. This is likely to create traffic bottlenecks.
Feroz Khan (30), another auto-rickshaw driver, said, “The traffic in Kurla west will increase once motorists start using the link road. The road is narrow and there are no traffic constables deployed on the stretch.”
The link road, the cost of which has shot up by more than 270 per cent to Rs 428 crore due to delay, change in the project scope, design changes, and massive resettlement of project-affected people, sports the city’s first double-decker flyover.
“The double-decker flyover makes the area look a class apart. Travelling on the link road gives an impression of a well-maintained city,” said 45-year-old Karuna Arsule, a homemaker.