The inauguration of Eastern Freeway marks the end of an hour-long harrowing drive along Eastern Express Highway and Ambedkar Road. The distance between south Mumbai and Chembur can now be covered in less than 20 minutes,that too at a modest speed of 60 kmph.
Once the second phase of the freeway is commissioned by yearend,the travel time to Ghatkopar from south Mumbai would also be cut to roughly 25 minutes.
The first phase includes a 9.3-km elevated road from Orange Gate on P DMello Road to Anik near Wadala and four of eight lanes of Anik-Panjarpol Link Road.
The elevated road has 478 spans but the ride is smooth,thanks to a bitumen layer atop concrete. The ride,however,becomes a bit rough as one hits the mostly at-grade Anik-Panjarpol Link Road,where MMRDA has not covered cement with bitumen.
We have deliberately done this as bitumen makes a road vulnerable to rapid wear and tear,especially in a place like Mumbai that gets heavy rain. We have applied bitumen only on elevated sections to minimise vibrations. The carpeting of the elevated road will have to be maintained every 4-5 years,as against once in 15 years for a cement road, said a senior MMRDA official.
Glimpses of Mazgaon dock,the ocean beyond,the green cover near Mahul and salt pan land make the freeway a pleasant drive.
MMRDA has constructed foot over-bridges for residents along certain stretches of Anik-Panjarpol Link Road and is in the process of building boundary walls to prohibit jaywalking.
Some of the residents had threatened to disrupt the inauguration as MMRDA had not repaired a road under a bridge on Anik-Panjarpol Link Road.
We had a meeting with the residents this (Thursday) morning and convinced them not to disturb the inauguration, said Qaiser Khalid,additional commissioner of police (eastern region).