Pragati Maidan tunnel road corridor may open by November, says PWD
New Delhi: A 1.2-kilometre-long tunnel road corridor underneath Pragati Maidan, connecting Mathura Road, Ring Road and Bhairon Marg is likely to be opened by November, said senior officials of the Delhi government’s Public Works Department -- the agency that is executing the work.
The underground road corridor will help decongest one of the most traffic-intensive areas in Delhi as well as roads that are marred perennially by traffic jams. Once the tunnel opens, along with six underpasses that are also part of the project to allow traffic move seamlessly enter and exit the underground road, a drive to the India Gate and parts of central Delhi from different corners of the city will become hassle free.
However, like the Ashram Chowk underpass, this project too has been running way behind schedule, and the PWD is not only yet to finish work on the tunnel, but also have to get necessary approvals to finish work on two of the six underpasses that are part of the project. This is besides the major road repair works that the agency will have to undertake on Mathura Road, Ring Road and Bhairon Marg, near project sites.
The tunnel and the six underground U-turns were to be finished by March 2019. The same year, PWD fixed two new deadlines -- first for May and then September. However, when it could not meet either of them, the department did not fix a new deadline.
Senior officials quoted above, however, expressed the confidence that the entire project will be opened in phases, after trials, adding that around 95% work on the tunnel has been done.
Of the six underpasses -- five are located on Mathura Road, and one on the Ring road. Two of the five underpasses on Mathura Road are near Sundar Nagar and three are between Pragati Maidan and Supreme Court. The underpass on the Ring Road connects it to Bhairon Marg.
Officials said though work on four underground U-turns is nearing completion, the other two are stuck.
“Work at two of the underpasses near Supreme Court and Matka Peer is stalled as we are yet to receive permissions from a few agencies. As soon as we get those, work will commence there as well and we will soon be able to open those stretches as well. We will also construct a service lane along Mathura road before we open the roads for trial. After getting a final nod from the traffic police, it will be thrown open for final operations by November,” said an official.
In the first phase, the main tunnel will be thrown open to traffic by November along with three other underpasses at DPS Mathura road, Kaka Nagar and Bhairon Marg. Officials said that trials on this stretch will begin after the second week of October, but only a limited number of vehicles will be allowed.
Besides finishing work to be able to open the tunnel road by November, the PWD will have to undertake major road repairs on Mathura Road as well as Bhairon Marg. Stretches on both roads where work is going on, are in tatters.
The project was primarily designed to handle the projected growth in traffic after revamp of Pragati Maidan. The tunnel road, goes beneath Pragati Maidan, starting near National Sports Club of India (NSCI) on Purana Qila Road, and ends on Ring Road near the Pragati Power station.
The 932-crore project will help reduce snarls by cutting east Delhi-bound traffic from south and Lutyens’ Delhi through India Gate and ITO. At least 90,000 commuters use the ITO intersection every day and at least 60,000 commuters use the Bhairon Marg intersection every day, according to PWD data.
A senior PWD official, who is associated with the project said the tunnel will also provide three entry/exit points to the underground parking coming up at Pragati Maidan.
Sewa Ram, professor, School of Planning and Architecture, said the tunnel will definitely help decongest ITO and provide easier ride to and from East Delhi to Central Delhi. “However, the full results of this project will only be seen once the PWD opens all six underpasses,” he said.
Other experts said to completely decongest the entire Mathura Road, the PWD should also expedite work on the under-construction underpass at the Ashram Chowk. They said once the tunnel opens, and traffic flow becomes smoother from ITO, vehicles will still get stuck at the Ashram Chowk.