The Versova bridge over the Vasai creek, a road the leads to Vasai and the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway may soon stop being the traffic nightmare motorists have dreaded for the past few years.
A section of the 40-year-old bridge is undergoing repairs, which means traffic snarls — jams are often kilometres long — are common on this arterial road out of the city. What’s worse? It is also a route that heavy vehicles take to get in and out of Mumbai.
On Monday, the Public Works Department (PWD), said it will open up four plots of land in Dahanu, near the Maharashtra-Gujarat border as temporary parking lots for trucks. Such vehicles entering the state will first have to park at these temporary lots. Control rooms that will be set up in Vasai will monitor the traffic scenario on the bridge and allow the vehicles to enter only during low-traffic hours.
A PWD source said washrooms and canteens will be set up at the parking lots, spread over 14 acres, for truck drivers. According to PWD sources, these parking lots can hold 2,000 heavy vehicles, and will help reduce the load on the bridge.
Last week, PWD minister Eknath Shinde and MSRDC officials surveyed the spots.
The Versova bridge on national highway 8 was to be shut in the first week of September, after the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) found cracks in one of the girders holding it up. Maintenance wokr was ordered, but it was put off until September 15 owing to the Ganesh festival in the city.
The speed limit for all vehicles was lowered to 20kmph and heavy vehicles were diverted to the Bhiwandi-Chinchoti road in Vasai to lower the load on the bridge. Only empty trucks were allowed to ply on the Versova bridge.
Activists, however, have criticised the state for poor maintenance work done just two years ago. They also asked why the state had not expedited work on a new bridge to run parallel.