After the collapse of a British-era bridge on Savitri river at Mahad in Raigad district led to several deaths, the Pune Municipal Corpora-tion (PMC) which has woken up to undertake repair work of bridges within its jurisdiction, suddenly finds itself in a state of confusion as it does not have any information on either the date of construction or inauguration of two major bridges — Sambhaji and Old Harris.
In 2014, the PMC had carried out the structural audit of the bridges on Mutha river in its jurisdiction through a private agency. A detailed study of the bridges based on information provided by the civic administration was carried out with recommendations for safety purposes.
“The PMC has issued orders for the repair of seven bridges as per recommendation of the private agency. The civic body knows the age of all the bridges except two—Sambhaji and Old Harris. The audit report does not have information on the year of their construction,” said Sandeep Patil, junior engineer of the PMC traffic planning department.
Sham Dhawale, executive engineer and in-charge of PMC’s heritage cell, said that the civic body has recently included the bridges in its list of heritage structures, and therefore, they do not have much information about them. “The two bridges are quiet old and there are no records available on their construction. The Sambhaji bridge was earlier known as Lakdi pool as it was constructed of wood by the Peshwas. Later, it was reconstructed a few more times. So the exact construction date of the bridge is not available,” he said.
“Neither is there any information about the construction time of the Old Harris bridge. The heritage cell has never received any information from the British construction companies on the life of British-era bridges,” Dhawale further said.
The four-lane Sambhaji bridge connects Shastri Road and Karve Road on either side of Mutha river. It is a stone masonry arch bridge extended on both sides by steel brackets. The 150.15-metre bridge has an overall width of 28.8 metres with carriageways of 9.5 metres each on both sides and footpaths of 4.4 metres on both sides. The Old Harris bridge on Mula river on Pune-Mumbai highway NH-4 connects Pune city with Pimpri-Chinchwad. The two-lane bridge is 184.04-metre long and 12.755-metre wide. It has a 8.454-metre wide carriageway, and a 2-metre wide footpath on the downstream and a 2.5-metre footpath on the upstream.
Incidentally, officials said that the Sambhaji and Old Harris bridges do not submerge during flooding as the waterway below them are adequate. The PMC and PCMC have decided to jointly construct a new bridge parallel to Old Harris bridge due to the traffic chaos with widened roadspace on either side of the bridge.
The Wellesley bridge on Ambedkar Road is the oldest as per PMC records as it was constructed in 1830. The 194.67-metre long and 9.904-metre wide bridge has two lanes. This bridge too, does not submerge during floods. However, it has been recommended to remove all the plants on the structure.
The Old Sangam arch bridge was constructed in 1857 on Ambedkar Road. The 222-metre long and 11.942-metre wide road has two lanes with a 7.381-metre carriageway and a 3.011-metre footpath on one side of the bridge. This bridge was originally constructed for rail connectivity. After construction of a new bridge adjacent to it in 1926, the rail lines were shifted to the new bridge and the old bridge was converted for use by vehicles.
The Shivaji bridge was constructed in 1923. The 201.27-metre long and 19-metre wide bridge has two lanes with a carriageway of 11 metres and footpaths of 2 metres on both sides. The audit report pointed out cracks in vertical posts of the RCC parapet wall over the return portion and the steel remains exposed.