Your travel between Mumbai and Pune is likely to be smoother, faster and without any jams on the expressway. Reason: The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) floated bids for the construction of additional lanes and tunnels to decongest the ghat section of the expressway.
There will be two elevated roads in the valley section and two tunnels between Khalapur and Sinhgad institute near Kusgaon. The augmentation plan of the corporation aims to reduce travel time between the two cities by 30 to 45 minutes.
At present, traffic from the expressway and the old highway converge on the six-lane stretch between Khopoli and Khandala, causing traffic congestion. “Our plan is to connect the section after Khalapur toll plaza and Sinhgad institute through tunnels and viaducts. Wherever there is a valley section, we will have viaducts [elevated road] and wherever there is a mountain we will have a tunnel. With this, motorists will be able to bypass the ghat section, where there is traffic congestion on most occasions,” said Kiran Kurundkar, joint managing director, MSRDC.
According to MSRDC officials, the two four-lane tunnels will be 1.75km and 8.92km in length, while the additional lanes will be of 13.3km and 5.9km. The estimated cost of the project is Rs5,385 crore and the period of construction is three years. “We have invited bids for qualification and we intend to award the contract by February,” said a senior MSRDC official.
Earlier, the MSRDC had invited bids for qualification in October, but the plan hit a roadblock because it was not technically feasible. The planned elevated road, which is part of the link between Khalapur toll plaza and Sinhgad Institute, was not feasible, because the latter is on a high gradient (upslope). Following that, the corporation reworked the detailed plan and has now invited fresh bids for the project.