Sunil Marale,a resident of Pimpri-Chinchwad,prefers to travel by night when he visits his native place Sangli. This is because of heavy rush at toll plazas in the daytime and I hate a long stopover, he says.
But the Marale family wont have to crib over such delays as the Pune-Satara Highway,part of the Prime Ministers Golden Quadrilateral Project,will have swanky toll plazas with as many as 16 lanes in the next two years.
Along with the restructured toll plazas,the four-lane Pune-Satara highway is being converted into six lanes offering a driving experience like the Pune-Mumbai Expressway. As of now,two existing toll plazas at Khed-Shivapur and Anewadi have 11 lanes. Once expanded,the toll plazas are expected to heavily reduce traffic congestion and cut travel time.
The highway,covering about 140 km from Dehu Road in Pune to Shindewadi in Satara,will by 2013 sport a new look,offering faster and convenient travel,said Sudhir Hoshing,CEO,(Roads), Reliance Infrastructure (RInfra). The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has handed over the highway to RInfra. The RInfra,which took over the highway in September last year,will spend around Rs 2,000 crore on maintenance and development. R-Infra is expected to recover the investment in 24 years through toll.
Hoshing said swanky toll plazas should reduce stopover time by 80 per cent. We were handed six-lane toll plazas,which first become 8 lane and just couple of months back,were converted to 11 lanes. As and when the road acquisition is complete,we will convert the toll plazas into 16 lanes, he said. Hoshing said the expansion of toll plazas would be done either at the same spot or a little distance away depending on availability of land. RInfra officials said more than 90 per cent of the land acquisition work has been completed.
Rinfra will introduce medical,first-aid and patrolling services at toll plazas. Modern restrooms will come up across the entire stretch that has the toll plaza corridor.
RInfra also plans to develop 244 kilometres of service road,23 vehicle underpasses,58 bridges and 12 flyovers,he said. The widening of the roadway from four to six lanes will not only shorten travel time and increase driving comfort,but also enhance potential for industrial development. RInfra expects an annual growth of 10-12 per cent in vehicular traffic on the Pune-Satara corridor. The pace of industrial growth and economic activity is growing at 7.5 per cent,as per statistics, officials said.
Hoshing said the existing toll plazas have already been automated with Automatic Vehicle Classification Count (AVCC) technology to facilitate road users by substantial reduction in transaction time. Both toll plazas are equipped with 30 hand held vending machines and additional staff. CCTVs have been installed.
A RInfra official said as compared to Pune-Mumbai Expressway,toll rates on the highway is 20 per cent less. We will increase it by 5 per cent as per the norms, Hoshing said.