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Mumbai’s hyperlinks

It survives only as part of a larger road connecting two islands. But the Mahim Causeway, built in 1846, is not only a link between parts of the city that used to be unconnected but a testament to the foresight of the Jeejebhoy family.

mumbai Updated: Mar 15, 2011 01:26 IST

It survives only as part of a larger road connecting two islands. But the Mahim Causeway, built in 1846, is not only a link between parts of the city that used to be unconnected but a testament to the foresight of the Jeejebhoy family.

It took planners 157 years to emulate the Jeejeebhoys by trying to link two other sides of the city that were poorly connected.

For decades, Mumbai’s planners thought only of providing north-south road connectivity, ignoring the much-needed east-west route.

As the population exploded, the growth of suburbs such as Andheri, Borivli, Thane and Mulund outstripped that of South Mumbai. It was then that the need for east-west connectivity dawned on the authorities.

Only in 2003 did planners think of such connectivity through of link roads. They identified five stretches, some of which needed expansion while others would have to be built from scratch.

These stretches came to be known as Santa-Cruz Chembur Link Road (SCLR), Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR), Andheri-Ghatkopar Link Road, Goregaon-Mulund Link Road and Sion-Mahim Link Road.

“As vehicles get cheaper, their numbers balloon. Unless we create east-west corridors, motorists would have a difficult time,” said transport expert Ashok Datar.

According to Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), there are 17.15 lakh vehicles in Mumbai; the vehicle population is growing at 15% annually.

Also, business hubs have come up in the western and eastern suburbs such as Goregaon, Malad, Vikhroli, Andheri and Powai. This transformation followed the establishment of Bandra-Kurla Complex, Mumbai’s first business hub connecting east and west.

Work on the 11-km, 12-lane JVLR has been on since 2003 and is 96% complete. The bottleneck is the IIT-Kanjurmarg stretch.

“We are strengthening the road near IIT and shifting a temple,” said a senior MMRDA official on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media. The official said the road would be ready by May.

Further south is the SCLR. Mumbai’s first double-decker flyover lies on this road. The deadline for this mammoth link is December.

The project hit a roadblock in the form of rehabilitation of project-affected people and lack of clearances for structures over railway tracks. “The railways have cleared the proposal now,” said SVR Srinivas, additional metropolitan commissioner. A road linking Andheri to Ghatkopar is also in the works. This 7.9-km connector passes through business hubs such as Saki Naka and Marol. Its completion depends on the completion of the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro. “The Metro will ply on the same stretch,” said Dilip Kawatkhar, joint director, MMRDA.

Santacruz-Chembur Link Road
Length: 6.5 km
Cost: Rs 242 crore
Project: Aims to make your ride from the western suburbs to the north-eastern ones easier. It would allow faster access to Navi Mumbai too. As of now, residents of western suburbs have to use Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road or take a detour from Sion to reach Chembur to get to Navi Mumbai. During peak hours, the journey could take 70-120 minutes. Once the road is complete, it will take only 17 minutes.
Mumbai’s first double-decker flyover will be part of the road. The 1.75-km flyover will cost Rs 110 crore. The first level will have two arms — one going to Lokmanya Tilak Terminus and the other to Kurla Mother Dairy. The second level will be a freeway connecting Amar Mahal Junction to Santacruz.
Status: Project stuck for years. Mooted in 2003, MMRDA is building the road with money given by the World Bank under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project. There were problems with the rehabilitation of project-affected people at Netaji Nagar in Kurla and railway clearances for structures over the tracks at Kurla and Tilak Nagar.
Now, the road is expected to be ready by March 2012. MMRDA extended its deadline at least six times, escalating the cost from Rs 127crore to Rs 242 crore.