EIGHT MONTHS after the pedestrian section of G K Gokhale bridge collapsed in Andheri, the crucial East-West connector is yet to be repaired fully and only half the bridge is operational.
Western Railway (WR) officials claimed that due to risk to workers from a railway line running underneath, repair work cannot be done throughout the day.
A part of the Andheri rail overbridge had come crashing down early July 3, 2018, killing two and injuring five persons, who were crossing the bridge. On March 14, in a similar collapse had claimed six lives after the foot overbridge near CSMT railway station partially crashed last Thursday.
The slow repair of the Andheri bridge is an indicator of how long it could take to repair the CSMT bridge. In both cases, structural audits had highlighted no major risk.
Following the G K Gokhale bridge collapse, an IIT audit report had stated that the bridge required girder strengthening and minor repairs. “The south side of the bridge was repaired in January. Work on the north side has now begun,” said Ravindra Bhakar, PRO of WR. The repairs are slated to get over by May this year.
The bridge connects Western Express highway with rest of Andheri West suburbs. With one-way of the bridge shut for repairs, and barricades placed haphazardly, commuters have either changed routes or forced to trudge through traffic.
“I take that bridge twice a week. It takes over 15 minutes to just cross over,” said writer-producer Akshay Acharya (30). The Andheri East resident claimed that travelling to Four Bungalows earlier took 20 minutes from his home. “It now stretches between 40 minutes to an hour. The Metro work has also increased traffic enroute.”
Social media manager Hardik Rachch (26) said he has started taking an alternative route since the bridge collapsed. “The new route via Juhu takes longer, but at least I don’t have fear that I am risking my life,” he added.
Officials said the delay in repairs is attributed to a railway line running underneath. “The workers get only two hours daily in night when the trains are not running. The work required under the bridge is undertaken only then,” an official said.
Parth Shah, television producer with Lsd Films Private Limited, said: “There is now one lane for vehicles travelling in both directions. The traffic is so bad, I have stopped using that bridge.” Shah now takes the Jogeshwari flyover.
Joint CP (Traffic) Amitesh Kumar said the bridge has led to traffic in other peripheral junctions, affecting at least two nearby junctions in Andheri. “When the bridge collapsed, the entire bridge was shut. At least one section was opened later, which is better than closing the entire bridge. But we face traffic snarls in both east and west bound traffic,” he said.
The bridge was audited in November 2017 and again in April 2018. In both the inspections, the bridge was not found posing high risk. Only corrosion was recorded. When the pedestrian section collapsed, IIT was asked to conduct a structural audit, where it recommended girder strengthening.
The structural audit report of the collapsed foot overbridge near CSMT station, submitted in August last year, had also claimed that the FOB’s condition was good. In both bridges, officials have realised that the terms of auditing need to be reviewed.
An accidental death report was registered in the GK Gokhale bridge. The police awaits final report from Railways before further investigations.