The 127-year-old Jagraon Bridge was finally closed for all vehicles except two-wheelers on Thursday. This triggered a spate of traffic snarls across the city. Vehicles were stuck in jams on Old GT Road, near Clock Tower, Vishwakarma Chowk and Dholewal flyover.
A commuter, Sanjeev Sharma, who was coming from Vishwakarma Chowk side, said, “I got stuck in a jam near the railway station. It took me around 25 minutes to reach the Lakkar Bridge. The MC should at least display the diversion plans at all intersections.”
Sunil Kumar and Kamaljeet Singh, senior section engineers (works), Northern Railways, said, “Following the downpour on Wednesday night, the railway authorities directed us to close the dilapidated bridge to avoid any tragedy.”
“We visited the bridge on Thursday morning and found that some parts of the bridge were falling down. So, we ordered its closure,” they said.
The officials said, “Traffic police officials installed barricades at the entry points of Jagraon Bridge and made efforts to ensure smooth flow of traffic.”
Another commuter said, “The diversion plan boards installed in the city are in Punjabi language. People like me, who can’t read Punjabi or belong to other states, will get lost here. The authorities should make arrangements for displaying diversion routes in English and Hindi also.”
Meanwhile, traffic activist Rahul Verma said, “I had requested the MC to repair the road near Lakkar Bridge, but neither have they carried out any repair work, nor did they remove encroachments from near the railway station. Even the MC was requested to lift the asphalt paver machine that has been parked on Dholewal flyover to make way for traffic, but to no avail. This all created chaos on the road.”
“Besides, some commuters were caught unawares as were they ignorant of the bridge being closed,” Verma said.
MC superintending engineer Pawan Sharma said, “The boards about diversion plans will be displayed within a week. We have repaired the potholes near the Lakkar Bridge. The branch concerned has been asked to remove temporary encroachments from near railway station.”
Ambulances stuck in jam
A few ambulances were also stuck in the traffic jam near Vishwakarma Chowk. It is one of the most used routes to reach Dayanand Medical College and Hospital and civil hospital from Sherpur Chowk and Dholewal Chowk side.
A commuter, Mohinderpal Singh Bhatia, said, “An ambulance was stuck near the chowk for more than 15 minutes. The traffic police and MC should make a proper plan to prevent traffic jams.”
A technical team from Delhi had inspected the bridge in the first week of July and recommended its closure declaring it ‘unsafe’. Followed by speculations, preparations and trials by the Ludhiana traffic police over the past week, the railways closed the unsafe side — leads to Bharat Nagar Chowk — of the bridge was closed till its reconstruction. The girders of Jagraon Bridge — built in 1888 — have corroded.
Proposal of its widening approved
On Tuesday, MC’s finance and contract committee (F&CC) has approved the proposal for re-construction and widening of unsafe side of the bridge. The seven-metre wide road will be further widened up to three metres.