Traffic on six of the city’s crucial road-over-bridges could be restricted if the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) delays the repair of these flyovers any further. The bridges — Frere road bridge at Charni Road, Belasis bridge at Grant Road station, Mahalaxmi bridge, Lower Parel bridge, Carol bridge which is also known as Parel bridge and Tilak bridge at Dadar — serve as crucial links for connecting eastern part of the city to the west.
The issue poses serious inconvenience and even risk to life for the lakhs of rail and road commuters who use these bridges. In November 2015, the Western Railway (WR) bridge department had written to the BMC pointing out the need to repair or refurbish the bridges which are almost hundred-year-old. The Belasis bridge was built in 1893 at Grant Road and is thus over 110-year-old, as per the Railways record (See box).
More importantly, some of these bridges like the bridges at Dadar, Parel and Lower Parel cross both the Central and Western lines. This means that in any case of any eventuality, both these lines could be disrupted leading huge inconvenience for both rail and road commuters.
The total amount required to refurbish these six flyovers is approximately `80.53 crore. The Railways plans to use the money to repair the bridges by putting new slabs. The process of replacing old slabs with new ones is also called rehabilitation of the bridge which is essential to re-strengthen the aging bridges.
“The foundation and pillars of these bridges are in good condition; only the slabs need to be changed. If rehabilitated, these bridges will get a new lease life for another 25-30 years,” said Ravindra Bhakar, chief public relation officer (CPRO), Western Railway.
Even experts confirmed that rehabilitating the bridges an easier and lesser expensive option than constructing new ones.
“It could take 4-5 years and at least ` 100 crore to construct a new flyover. Instead it is always advisable to rehabilitate old bridges. Once refurbished, the life of these bridges increases up to 25-30 years after which it can be refurbished again,” said Dr Himanshu Raje, structural division chairman of Practicing Engineering Architect Town Planners Association (PEATA).
When contacted, a BMC official from the bridges department requesting anonymity said, “We have demanded a detailed estimate of the budget from Railways regarding repairing the bridges. As soon as it arrives, it will be sent for sanction. The process is underway.”