Travel on the 217-km National Highway No 64 from Zirakpur to Bathinda is expected to be smoother within two to three years, but at a price. The road-widening project cleared by the union cabinet committee on infrastructure on Friday, entails toll tax barriers at five places enroute.
A private builder would be selected to execute the project on the built, operate, transfer (BOT) system.
Though the toll amount is yet to be worked out, it would be collected for as many as 21 years at three locations on the Patiala-Bathinda stretch and for 12 years at two locations on the Zirakpur-Patiala section. The total project cost has been pegged at Rs 2,007 crore.
The nod to the project, which was awaited for five years, was given by the committee of union ministers headed by the Prime Minister.
The public works department of the Punjab government has got conducted a feasibility study for the project and financial bids for the Zirakpur-Patiala section (50.7km) would be received on Tuesday, while for the Patiala-Bathinda stretch (166.45km) on March 30. The state government has reportedly got environment clearance to cut trees along the road for widening it.
The road would be four-laned, with each carriageway having a width of 8.5 metre with a centre verge of 5-metre width. Traffic on the main artery cutting across the Malwa belt has increased manifold after it was widened about 10 years ago.
On the Zirakpur-Patiala stretch, toll would be collected at one point between Zirakpur and Rajpura and another between Rajpura and Patiala. This stretch is expected to get completed in two years, while the Patiala-Bathinda one is likely to be ready in 30 months. The latter would have toll barriers on the outskirts of Patiala, then near Sangrur and the third between Barnala and Bathinda.
The first section would have a railway overbridge on the Rajpura bypass, one flyover on the Kharar-Banur-Tepla road and another near Liberty Chowk, Rajpura. On the Patiala-Bathinda stretch, a railway overbridge each would come up at Sangrur and Rampura Phul and one bypass road each at Patiala, Sangrur and Dhanaula. The stretch would have 12 flyovers covering all towns and cities on the route.
The Public Works Department engineer-in-chief, RP Singh, said work on the project would take off within two months, adding that the central Planning Commission was expected to specify the amount it would contribute to the project as viability gap funding, which would be worked out while the project was underway. In the viability gap funding, up to 40% cost of the project is shared by the commission.
Singh said the project cost had increased because of the cost of acquisition of land for road widening.