In the last 58 years, Mumbai’s vehicle population rose 3,700 per cent, to 14 lakh, while its road length increased by a mere 250 per cent, to 1,930 km. Which explainswhy motorists are struggling – and swearing – for road space every day.
Mumbai’s 64-km-long coastline has always been an option worth exploiting – 47 years after US-based planning firm Wilbur Smith recommendeda sea road, from Versova to NarimanPoint, the state government has finally cleared a sea link from Bandra to Nariman Point. The Bandra-Worli sea link, which took nine years to build, has altered Mumbai’s driving habits and its skyline.
The government took a whopping 388 days to decide who got the contract to build the second sea link, from Worli to Haji Ali.
Worli-Haji Ali sea link
After a long drawn out two-year process, on February 4, 2009, a Reliance Infrastructure-Hyundai consortium emerged as preferred bidder to construct the Worli-Haji Ali sea link, which is part of the ambitious Western Freeway Sea Link project to connect Bandra to Nariman Point.
To evaluate and formally clear that preferred bidder to go ahead and build the bridge – a process that should normally take a month – government officials, including the chief minister, procrastinated for 388 days, before finally green lighting it last week. Reliance-Hyundai had sought a Viability Gap Funding (VGF) of Rs 1,392 crore while competing bidder HCC-John Laing-Samsung quoted Rs 2,466 crore asVGF.
VGFis the amount given by the state to make infrastructure projects financially viable for developers. The base cost of the bridge is Rs 1120 crore, but the bidder will also have to buy the 5.6 Km Bandra Worli Sea Link from MSRDC at a cost of Rs 1,640 crore.
That takes the total construction cost of the Bandra to Haji Ali section – plus maintenance of the entire bridge – up to Rs 4500 crore.
In exchange for that Rs 4,500 crore, the winning bidder will get the right to ask motorists to pay toll – for a 40-year period – to recover costs. After that period, the project will be handed back to the government.
The link will take commuters from Bandra straight to the entrance of south Mumbai. Completion of this segment will also ensure optimumutilisation of the eight-lane Bandra-Worli sea link, of which only four lanes are currently operational.
Haji Ali-Nariman point sea link
The 10.9 km from Haji Ali to Nariman Point is the final link of the prestigiousWestern Freeway Sea Link.
Currently, the city’s extreme vehicle density and stagnant road length make the 20-km trip down this stretch a 120-minute crawl at peak hour. Once completed, this project will give motorists eight lanes of non-stop, no-traffic-lights driving from the suburbs to the heart of the city, potentially allowing them to cover the distance in as little as 20 minutes.
After years of deliberation on the possible modes of alignment of this bridge, the state government has finally green-lighted a part sea link-part underground tunnel plan. According to this formula, the structure will include a two-km sea link stretch from Haji Ali to Priyadarshini Park, an 800-m underground tunnel from Priyadarshini Park to Tambe Chowk via Malabar Hill, finished with a cutand-cover tunnel from Tambe Chowk to Marine Drive.
Cut-and-cover is a simple method of construction for shallow tunnels, in which a trench is excavated and roofed over. The entire project is likely to cost Rs 6,000-6,500 crore and the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation will now seek environmental and regulatory clearances before it invites tenders for the project.
With motorists headed for Navi Mumbai,Pune, Bangalore,Goa and the Konkan struggling through massive bottlenecks between Sion and the Panvel belt before they could hit theMumbai-Pune Expressway, the state drew up plans to expand the 25-km Sion-Panvel stretch.
This expansion will turn the current 6-lane road into a 12-lane expressway, from BARC junction at Sion, to Kalamboli junction at Panvel. Once ready, this expressway will take motorists driving towards those areas from Sion to Panvel within a few minutes. Right now, it takes more than an hour during traffic peak hours.
This non-stop road will include three flyovers and 10 underpasses, and its Panvel end will plug into the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. MSRDC had floated tenders for completion of the Rs 900 crore project, but it was bogged down in litigation and the tendering processwas subsequently cancelled. The state has now given a fresh go-ahead to begin the tendering process again.
Peddar road flyover
Peddar Road, the narrowest arterial road inMumbai, connects the island city to the suburbs.
To improve traffic dispersal towards south Mumbai, MSRDC, in 2000, proposed a 4.7-km Peddar Road flyover, among the longest in the city.
Progress on this troubled flyover has been delayed by opposition fromPeddar Road residents, including singer Lata Mangeshkar, as well as environmental regulations of the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA).
To accommodate both the steep turn at Tambe Chowk near Wilson College, and the need for smooth traffic flow, the flyover had to extend seven metres into the sands of Girgaum Chowpatty for construction of two of its pillars – and that violates Coastal Regulatory Zone regulations.
The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) has now decided it will not construct any pillars on Girgaum Chowpatty but will followthe road’s present alignment to construct the flyover.
This, however, means the flyover will take a steeper curve at Tambe Chowk and the maximum speed limit on this stretch will be a 25-kph crawl.
This 4.6-km flyover will stretch from L L Marg atHaji Ali up to Marine Drive near G B Pant Marg, allowing commuters to cut through 10 traffic lights.
Many believe the Peddar Road flyover could have the same smoothing effect on traffic dispersal as did the 2.7-km JJ flyover.
MSRDC, which has clearance from the MCZMA, is now waiting for a goahead from the National Coastal Zone Management Authority, without which it cannot start work on the project.
Bandra government colony
One of the largest redevelopment projects in the city, this will create nearly 13,000 flats in the next two years.
Work on redeveloping the government colony at Bandra (E), spread over 95 acres, is planned in three phases that will create 10,000 flats instead of the existing 4,846.Anadditional 3,000 flats (conservative estimate) may become available for free sale.
The cabinet sub-committee on infrastructure cleared the project last week. The project will free 20 acres of land close to the Bandra Kurla Complex and on the Western Expressway for free sale.
Builders will get these 20 acres as incentive to develop the 75 acres.
The project had been stalled since August last year,when three builderswere shortlisted – Ackruti City, Pune-based Kakade Group and Kakade Group.
“The project will be implemented on a Build-Operate-Transfer basis. The builders will pay the state a premiumofRs1,250 crore for this redevelopment,” said PWD minister Chhagan Bhujbal.
An equal amount is the estimated cost of redeveloping the colony, which has 250-odd buildings for Class I to Class IV government staffers. The existing staff will be rehoused in 15 twelvestorey buildings.