CHIEF MINISTER Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis took a test drive on the newly-constructed Mumbai-Nagpur Super Communication Expressway (Samruddhi Mahamarg) on Sunday. The deputy CM
himself drove the car on the 520-km-long stretch built under phase 1 of the project between Nagpur and Shirdi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will partially inaugurate the project on December 11. The expressway is a pet project of Fadnavis and was initiated during his tenure as CM while the BJP-Shiv Sena coalition was in office.
Officially named Hindu Hrudaysamrat Balasaheb Thackeray Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg, it is also known as the Mumbai-Nagpur Super Communication Expressway. The phase-1 of the project was to be inaugurated earlier this year but was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Once the entire 701-km stretch of the highway is operational, it is expected to boost development opportunities in the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions, which are drought-prone areas and are also BJP strongholds. The remaining 181-km stretch under phase 2 of the project, between Shirdi and Mumbai, will end in Thane’s Vadpe area in the Bhiwandi district, and will be ready by 2024, officials said.
Since, the expressway will be used by commercial vehicles going to Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) from Nagpur, the 23.5-km Mumbai-Nashik highway (NH 3) between Vadpe and Majiwada in Thane will also be revamped.
Once fully opened, the Samruddhi Mahamarg will reduce travel time between Nagpur and Mumbai by six hours. At present, commuters use NH 3 (Mumbai-Dhule) and NH 6 (Dhule-Nagpur) to reach Nagpur covering 800 km taking 16 hours.
The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) is building the 701 km eight-lane Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Expressway – touted to be the fastest in the country – where vehicles can ply at 150 kmph. The project is estimated to cost Rs 55,000 crore.
The expressway will traverse through 14 districts, six talukas and 392 villages and will have 24 interchanges, 38 bridges over 30 metres long and 283 bridges that are less than 30 metres.
Started in January 2019, the entire project was expected to be completed by September 2022. However, it was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the slow pace of work.