On Thursday, the authorities had a long-awaited gift in store for motorists on the Eastern Express Highway, but they bungled on the packaging.
Five years in the making and after overcoming numerous hiccups, the Suman Nagar flyover was finally thrown open to the public in the morning. However, there was chaos at its mouth thanks to inadequate and confusing signage put up by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and traffic police.
The 500-metre flyover was planned to help motorists headed to Navi Mumbai, Pune or Konkan region bypass bottlenecks along the Sion-Chembur belt by going over the Suman Nagar junction in Chembur.
The confusion was created since the authorities had not pulled down the old signage directing motorists to keep right to take the right turn to go towards Navi Mumbai, while the new signage, asking them to keep left to use the flyover, was too small for anyone to notice.
This resulted in minor traffic blockages at the Chembur end of the flyover. To ease the congestion, the traffic police had to deploy personnel to announce the change on a bull horn during the evening peak hours.
The flyover was thrown open without any fanfare after chief minister Prithviraj Chavan backed out from holding a public function as he did not want to cause traffic snarls.
“These are teething problems. However, things would have been a lot better if we had put up proper signs on the road,” said a traffic official manning the Suman Nagar junction.
The junction has been a chronic traffic-jam spot for years due to heavy load and narrow lanes. The presence of a railway bridge near the junction means that the six-lane highway narrows down to a four-lane road at this spot.
The junction also bifurcates traffic to Navi Mumbai and Thane, and vehicles heading towards these locations add to the congestion. The MMRDA decided to build the flyover which would take motorists going to Navi Mumbai from the Eastern Express Highway over the junction through this flyover, thereby separating vehicular flow on this route from the one to Thane.
The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) was asked to implement the project. It was initially estimated to have cost Rs16 crore and was to be built in a year. The expenditure has increased to Rs25 crore and the flyover has taken five years to complete.
“The flyover will definitely help commuters. There are initial hiccups, but people will learn on which side to drive in the next few days,” said Suresh Rokade, who commutes daily from south Mumbai to Navi Mumbai.