AFTER being under-construction for 11 years, necessitating the shifting of more than 3,500 families living in hutments and 15 buildings, and with a cost escalation of over-270 percent, the Santacruz Chembur Link Road will be opened for public use Friday morning.
The Link Road, which will provide an east-west connector and cut travle time between Santacruz and Chembur to about 20-30 minutes from the current 1-1.5 hours, will also sport the first two-layered or double-decker flyover.
UPS Madan, metropolitan commissioner at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), said, “We will remove the barricades and open the road for the public officially at 8 am on Friday. There will not be any function or formal inauguration.”
The 3.5-km Santacruz Chembur Link Road will begin after the Amar Mahal junction at Chembur and will stretch up to the CST Road at Kurla from where people can continue on the Vakola junction road to reach the Western Express Highway. From the Kurla CST Road, commuters can also choose to reach the western suburbs by traveling to Kalanagar junction through the Bandra Kurla Complex.
The lower level of the double-decker flyover has arms that will connect the Kurla station and the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, and can also be accessed by those wanting to travel to Ghatkopar or Vidyavihar.
Of the 3.5 km, around 1.75 km is continuously elevated, including a 900-metre section of the double-decker flyover, while the rest is an at-grade road. The 3.5-kms also includes a 400-metre bridge over the LBS Marg junction that the state government had made functional in 2012. The road will be 45.7 metres wide.
A newly-constructed 1,096-metre flyover at Amar Mahal Junction will help avoid a bottleneck there, once commuters start accessing the link road. However, authorities anticipate that there could be a bottleneck on the other side of the link road as several scrap dealers have encroached on the road space on the Kurla CST Road and Vakola bridge being narrow.
“The BMC was to widen that part of the road, remove encumbrances and make the Vakola bridge wider. However, that has not yet been done,” an MMRDA engineer said.
The civic body had taken up the widening of the Vakola bridge in three phases, but were unable to make much progress as a small patch of land belonging to the Ministry of Defence has been holding up the reconstruction of the bridge.
The Santacruz Chembur Link Road was a part of the World Bank-funded Mumbai Urban Transport Project. Work on the project, which also involved the relocation of ten religious structures, had started in 2003 and was originally supposed to be completed in 2008.
The project was delayed mostly due to complexities involved in rehabilitating such a large number of people, resistance from some families, especially those living in buildings, and securing permission from the Central Railway to take the road over the railway tracks at Kurla. As a result, the cost of the project, which was originally estimated to be
Rs 115 crore, swelled to Rs 428 crore.
“The original estimation was just the cost of construction. We had not considered the cot of shifting utilities, the deposits required to pay to various agencies such as almost Rs 40 crore to the railways and the cost of rehabilitation. The revised cost estimate includes all that and the escalation due to the delay,” the MMRDA engineer said.
He said that frequent design changes to overcome hurdles, and a major change in the project’s scope when the authority decided to build a 45.7 metre wide road as against the planned 30 metres, were some other reasons that led to the cost escalation.