Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s dream project, the 302km-long Agra-Lucknow expressway, was thrown open to public some time back.
In a reality check from Lucknow to Agra, we found that the e-way offers a super-smooth ride to commuters for 228km, after which they are diverted towards Sirsaganj, from where they can reach Agra via Shikohabad, Firozabad and Tundla, covering 80kms on the NH-2. The entrance to expressway from Agra-side, near the by-pass road, is currently out of bounds for commuters.
The remaining 74-km stretch is being given final shape. An official of the UP Expressway Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) said, “The 74-km stretch from Agra to Sirsaganj is not operational due to the railway over-bridge work at Firozabad.
Work is on at war footing so that we can start at least one side (of the remaining stretch of the e-way) by mid-February. We are hoping, commuters will be able to complete their journey on the expressway in three hours once it is fully operational.”
CM Akhilesh Yadav had also posted a picture of the railway over-bridge at Bhadan (Firozabad, 67 kms from Agra). He had written: “This bridge built on Agra Lucknow expressway is estimated to be perhaps the heaviest, widest and longest ever launched over railway tracks anywhere in India (sic).”
A smooth, safe drive
Starting from Lucknow, from Sarosa Bharosa village in Kakori, off Mohan Road, commuters will get their first view of the unbelievably wide six-lane e-way, median fenced on divider and guarded by crash barriers on both sides. Each three-lane road has white and yellow surface markings. Once you accelerate, you won’t need to change gears except for a few temporary diversions, where the traffic moves on one lane with clearly demarcated makeshift dividers in place. Throughout the stretch, at small intervals, there are dedicated jetted-out rest points.
We also spotted around 15 ‘Dial-100’ police vans, three ambulances and two recovery vehicles on the e-way.
Even though there are no street lights as of now, night driving on the e-way is a safe experience. This is due to the reflectors installed at crash barriers, median fences, dividers and surface markings, all of which provide ample light to commuters.
Carry your own food, water
As of now, there are no fuel stations, restaurants and shops on the expressway. So, before you climb on it, make sure you have drinking water, food, stepney (spare tire) and other necessary equipment handy.
At present, there no milestones and gantry boards too. Signboards can be seen only at entry-exit points, such as, Mohaan, Kanpur, Etawah, Kannauj and Mainpuri. From the Agra side, the current entry point is at Sirsaganj (Shikohabad). Other than these, the only signages that dot the stretch are those of speed limit (100 kmpl) and safe driving.
A UPEIDA official said, “Illumination will be done on all major bridges and all the 12 inter-change points. Kilometre signage and gantry boards too will come up in the coming days. Four way-side amenities will also come up. These will have restaurants, petrol pumps and medical assistance.”
The expressway is attracting no toll as of now. With the UP assembly election round the corner, it is unlikely that any charge will be levied in the next two months. So, for now, commuters can enjoy the expressway driving experience for free. The ride is especially smooth as no heavy vehicles are being allowed on the e-way for now.