Four years behind schedule, India’s first double-deck bridge — the Santacruz-Chembur Link Road — is finally taking shape. Work on most of its abandoned components has begun with a fresh deadline.
As of now, the under-construction structure outside Lokmanya Tilak Terminus station is merely a novelty for the locals. Deadlines for it have been pushed ahead at least four times since construction began in 2003. The latest deadline is December 2010.
The Santacruz-Chembur Link Road (SCLR) is one of the two east-west corridors being built under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project — the other is the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli link Road. The six-lane, six-storey-high bridge, to start at Santacruz in the west and end at Chembur in the east, will be an engineering feat, and a vital link between the western to eastern suburbs — potentially cutting travel time between the two ends from the current two hours to 17 minutes.
“Slums, chawls, public toilets, community centres, temples, mosques gurdwaras, Buddhist temples, churches, housing apartments, minor roads, electric pylons — this is the range of structures and people that were relocated to make way for the bridge — the relocation was the far tougher challenge than the engineering that went into the bridge,” a Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) official said.
“But it’s finally taking shape and most of the hurdles are cleared,” said D.G. Bankar, executive engineer, Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC). MMRDA is handling coordination, MSRDC is executing the actual construction.
Citizen activists are skeptical about the new deadline.
“Most of the components of the SCLR bridge are complete, but the real problem will be to take the bridge over the railway tracks. The railways are simply not giving the clearance for this, and that’s delayed everything,” said lawyer Jitendra Gupta of the Citizen Transport Committee and the Forum for Improving Quality of Life in Mumbai Suburbs.
Central Railway chief spokesperson S. C. Mudgerikar said: “There are no coordination problems between MSRDC and CR. We are in talks with MSRDC and are expediting the process of permissions.”