The Pune-Mumbai Expressway and the old Pune-Mumbai highway may have to be shut for a few hours during the day for at least a week to remove loose rocks at landslide-prone areas and for carrying out other repair work.
Authorities said the work would take at least a week and dates on which the roads are to be closed would soon be announced.
On Monday, as the traffic on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway resumed after Sunday’s landslide, a team from the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRDC) visited various spots on the highways connecting the two cities.
MSRDC had said that a fresh geological survey of the rocky area along the Expressway would be conducted.
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Sudhir Aspat, deputy superintendent of police with the State Highway Police said, “There is a proposal that the expressway and old highway be closed for the removal of loose rocks at some of the landslide-prone spots. There is a 70-feet high earth mover which will be brought in for this work. The base of this machine covers one full lane and more than half the lane on the other side. So for this work, the entire road has to be closed.”
“As huge boulders will be falling down, the entire traffic would have to be stopped. The work will done during the day time. In the Ghat section, the old highway and the Expressway have a common patch, so both the roads will have to be closed. Also, we cannot just close one patch of the road. The traffic has to be stopped for longer stretches,” Aspat said.
Sources said a meeting of senior officials from the SHP, MSRDC, state government, local police and local administration was held on Tuesday.
A senior SHP official said,”MSRDC wanted to immediately start the work. They actually wanted to begin on Wednesday, but we cannot just stop the traffic on few hours of notice. A date and timetable of the closure will soon be announced.”
However, Eknath Shinde, state’s PWD Minister clarified later Tuesday that only a few lanes of the expressway would be closed for traffic for repair work.
Shinde, a Shiv Sena minister, said in a statement, “It is true we are going to take up the work of removing loose soil and stones at the spot of the landslide. When we take up this work, a few lanes of the expressway would be closed to traffic, not the entire expressway.”
A senior official with the Central Railway said they will certainly do their bit for commuters. “We have not been informed about any such plan about the Expressway closure. If such a necessity arises, the General Manager can certainly take a decision to run extra special trains on certain days, as per the need. We did the same on July 19 when the landslide blocked the Expressway,” said the official.