Commuters travelling along the Western Express Highway (WEH) may have to wait for at least 10 more months for a smooth ride. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is planning to remove barricades on the stretch put up for the Metro 7 construction by next monsoon. “By May next year, we will begin removing the barricades. All barricades on the central median will be removed and some on the sides will also be taken away. Our work on the ground level will be completed by then and we will only keep the barricades in the station areas, where the work will be on,” said a senior MMRDA official.
The barricades alternate between the sides and the centre all along the alignment. However, those on the central median tend to cause lot more traffic congestion as they occupy one lane of the road.
The MMRDA has currently barricaded 67 per cent of the 16.5 km corridor from Dahisar (East) to Andheri (East). It has also started work on eight of the 13 stations — Shankarwadi, Mahananda, Aarey, Pathanwadi, Bandongri, Magathane, Devipada and National Park. It has completed 63 piers and 22 girders have been erected.
The MMRDA has completed 600-700 m construction in each of the three packages.
“By February 2018, we plan to complete stretches of 1.75 km in all three packages. By March 31, it will be handed over for track installation and the track laying will begin by May,” the official said.
Some commuters who take WEH regularly continue to blame barricading of the highway for the sluggish vehicular movement, especially during the peak hours. Others feel that removal of the barricades laid down for Metro 7 construction will hardly ease congestion on the road.
Prashant Shankarnarayan, a regular commuter on WEH, said: “There was traffic congestion on the road even before the Metro came. The real issue is that, the roads are narrow and there is heavy density of vehicles.”
Rishi Agarwal, a transport expert, said: “Once the barricades are removed, it may marginally help ease the traffic. The barricades act as a bottleneck as traffic converges from a broad stretch to a narrow one. But in the long run, the Metro itself is not going to improve traffic. People travelling in local trains may shift to the Metro. But not those who travel by cars. The Metro will be as crowded as the local train and nobody travelling by car will prefer it.”