The Public Works Department (PWD), which is responsible for maintaining the Western Express Highway – one of the worst roads in the city this monsoon – plans to spend Rs 25 crore on resurfacing the entire highway from October 14. For this, it plans to use expensive, high-quality asphalt called Mastic asphalt, which has high bitumen content and is supposedly more resistant to wear than ordinary asphalt.
PWD will spend Rs 25 crore on two separate resurfacing contracts – one from Mahim to Andheri and the other from Andheri to Dahisar. This, PWD officials promise, will ensure smoother journeys next monsoon.
However, if the experience of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is anything to go by, the new asphalt is unlikely to work wonders. The civic body has been using Mastic asphalt for years now – at various junctions and side-strips of roads – with no real success.
Despite this, PWD is banking on Mastic asphalt to prevent potholes on the Western Express Highway. A senior PWD official, who did not wish to be named, said, “We have taken all the necessary measures to repair roads and junctions on the highway (from October). We will be using Mastic asphalt as it has a longer life.” He added, “Work orders have been issued in two parts – from Mahim to Andheri and from Andheri to Dahisar – and will begin immediately after the monsoon.”
PWD had earlier experimented with two other techniques to repair potholes but eventually persisted with cold-mix asphalt, which is easily washed away by rain. One of these techniques involved using pot concrete, which is three times more expensive than cold-mix asphalt. However, using it required the road to be closed to vehicles for six hours, which officials said was not feasible. Another method involved adding a special polymer to cold-mix asphalt, but this required the potholes to be completely dry, which is possible during the monsoon.