Motorists commuting on the Bandra-Worli sea link may soon get a smoother, safer ride on the landmark 4.7-km bridge with the state government deciding to open the four-lane north carriageway on March 16.
“We will be opening the second carriageway to commuters on March 16,” Sonia Sethi, joint managing director at Maharashtra State Road Development Authority (MSRDC) said. The opening will be marked by a small ceremony presided over by Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.
Currently, only the four lanes of the south carriageway have been open for public use since June 2009, when the sea link was inaugurated. These four lanes have been divided into two lanes each, which ferry southward and northward traffic. The absence of permanent barriers dividing these four lanes has led to numerous accidents on the sea link.
“The new carriageway will ensure there are no more head-on collisions on the sea link,” an MSRDC official said on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media. The northbound carriageway will now cater exclusively to traffic heading from the island city to the suburbs.
According to the state’s original sea link blueprint, the northbound carriageway was to be connected to the southbound carriageway using a cloverleaf interchange, which is a loop of roadway coiling over the southbound segment, which would then terminate at the Worli end, close to Thadani Junction.
The cloverleaf interchange, however, is expected to take more than two years to build, and will be taken up by the Reliance Infrastructure-Hyundai consortium, which will build the Worli-Haji Ali section of the sea link. As a temporary solution, MSRDC has decided to construct a connector on the sea link.
With the new arrangement, commuters will get on to the sea link from the Worli end through the old two-lane road. After covering 1.1 km on the south carriageway, they can get on to the north carriageway via the new connector.
This will allow commuters to use the entire four-lane carriageway for northbound travel. It won’t all be easy sailing, though, since commuters zipping down this new four-lane carriageway will arrive at the Worli exit, which is still a two-lane set-up — meaning more gridlocked traffic.