AFTER THE Indian Air Force last year suggested that upcoming highways be designed to serve as runways for their aircraft in the event that key airfields are rendered out of service, the Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg, or the Mumbai-Nagpur super communication highway, is set to have provisions for an emergency airstrip.
“Based on the Air Force’s request we are making provisions for emergency airstrips for war-like situations or disaster management,” said Kiran Kurundkar, Joint Managing Director, Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC).
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In November last year, Lucknow-Agra Expressway became the first road in India to also function as an airstrip. During its launch, Air Force fighter jets had made a touchdown on the Expressway.
Apart from the regular road side amenities like food plazas, shops, bus bays, truck terminals and trauma centres, the 710 km Supercommunication Expressway connecting Mumbai to Nagpur will also have several other modern facilities. It will be an “intelligently managed” highway with complete CCTV surveillance and e-traffic management, allowing for automatic detection of traffic violations.
The expressway will be dotted by international quality signages to guide commuters. Underground Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) networks, WiFi and utilities like gas pipelines will also be laid. With toll booths only at interchanges, there will be automatic toll collection, with toll collected based on the distance travelled.
“Toll booths will be present only at the entry-exit points of the expressway to provide smooth flow of traffic. By then, RFID tags may become compulsory and it will allow for automatic toll collection based on the distance the vehicle has travelled,” added Kurundkar.
MSRDC has similar plans for the 24 townships that it will be developing along the route. This includes state-of-the art healthcare facilities, skill management centres, IT parks and educational institutions. The super expressway is deemed to reduce the travel time between Nagpur and Mumbai from 16 hours to 8 hours.
For this, it will be designed to allow speeds up to 150 km/ hr on flat terrain and 100 km/h in ghat section. Generally, highways are designed only to accommodate speeds up to 120 km per hour.
“While the highways only allow speed up to 120 km/h, everyone overspeeds causing accidents. If we can design the road to accommodate higher speeds there will be lesser accidents,” explains a senior MSRDC official. In another innovative and eco-friendly initiative, they propose to use plastic for the road overlay along with asphalt.
A total of 20,820 hectare of land is needed for the project and it will be obtained through the process of land pooling. Only 30 per cent of the land has been obtained so far, but MSRDC hopes to receive the rest by the end of March. With a 2019 deadline, the actual work is set to begin only by June.