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Here’s how they plan to link the coast

The Haji Ali-Nariman Point sea link,the last phase of the Western Freeway project,could now be a combination of a sea bridge,a tunnel and a shallow tunnel under Marine Drive.

Written by Swapnil Rawal | Mumbai | Published: February 12, 2009 3:57 am

CHARTING OUT A COURSE: Part sea bridge,part tunnel,all subject to Cabinet approval

The Haji Ali-Nariman Point sea link,the last phase of the Western Freeway project,could now be a combination of a sea bridge,a tunnel and a shallow tunnel under Marine Drive. The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC),the nodal agency for the project,will soon send the suggestion to the state Cabinet for approval.

The first phase — the Bandra Worli sea link — is nearing completion. Bids for construction of the Worli-Haji Ali sea link are under scrutiny and the construction is expected to begin later this year. A final decision on the Haji Ali-Nariman Point connectivity is crucial as the dispersal of traffic from the first two sections will be a challenging task.

S M Gavai,vice-chairman and managing director of MSRDC,said the empowered committee chaired by the Chief Secretary has perused various alternatives suggested by consultants and recommended a sea bridge from Haji Ali to Priyadarshini Park,followed by a deep (drill and blast) tunnel via Malabar Hill to Tambe Chowk and then a cut-and-cover tunnel from Tambe Chowk to Nariman Point.

The shallow tunnel was preferred to a sea bridge for the final section as a sea-bridge along this portion could mar the view of the proposed statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj off the Marine Drive coast. The 10.9-km link between Haji Ali and Nariman Point could be constructed on a build,operate and transfer (BOT) basis like the Worli-Haji Ali sea link.

Cut-and-cover tunnelling is a simple and cost-effective method of construction of shallow tunnels; the road is excavated to create a trench and roofed over. A strong overhead support system is required to carry the load of the covering material. “The shallow tunnel would be a four-lane road under the existing Marine Drive. We’re sending the recommendation from the consultants to the Cabinet,” said Gavai.

MP Milind Deora had criticised the decision on a tunnel under Malabar Hill. When asked about the protest,Public Works Minister Vimaltai Mundada said,“We will weigh all options before deciding on the alignment.”

Earlier,the government was considering a direct tunnel from Haji Ali to Nariman Point — an option Deora and other residents are demanding — but it was later ruled out by the state-appointed consultant,UK-based Arup CES.

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