Ring Road relief: Underpass on Benito Juarez Marg opens after several delays

Updated on Jul 03, 2022 06:10 AM IST

The 1.2km-long one-way underpass, which is now open for regular traffic, begins near Sri Venkateswara College and goes beneath the South Campus Metro Station on to the Ring Road. One of its arms opens on to San Martin Road and the other on to Ring Road towards Moti Bagh, officials said.

The Benito Juarez underpass on Ring Road in New Delhi. (Vipin Kumar/HT photo)
The Benito Juarez underpass on Ring Road in New Delhi. (Vipin Kumar/HT photo)
ByAlok KN Mishra, New Delhi

People commuting from Gurugram, the Delhi airport and several neighbourhoods in south-west Delhi will find it significantly easier to head towards other parts of the national capital now, with deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia on Saturday opening an underpass on Benito Juarez Marg that will link the crucial stretch near Delhi University’s South Campus with Ring Road and San Martin Marg.

The 1.2km-long one-way underpass, which is now open for regular traffic, begins near Sri Venkateswara College and goes beneath the South Campus Metro Station on to the Ring Road. One of its arms opens on to San Martin Road and the other on to Ring Road towards Moti Bagh, officials said.

During the inauguration on Saturday, Sisodia said the underpass will help cut travel time significantly. “Lakhs of commuters moving between Gurugram and Delhi will benefit from this every day. It will also help reduce fuel consumption by around 2,181 litres every day,” Sisodia said. “Lower spending on fuel and gas will result in huge savings for commuters. According to an estimate, the project will help save 18 crore annually.”

A 670m skywalk connecting the two arms of San Martin Marg and Benito Juarez Marg has also been built as part of the project.

Construction of the underpass, built for 143.78 crore, has taken roughly 6.5 years to complete, with work starting in November 2015 and missing eight deadlines along the way.

The second project near the crossing, an extension of the Ashram flyover up to the DND Flyway, is still under construction. (HT Illustration)
The second project near the crossing, an extension of the Ashram flyover up to the DND Flyway, is still under construction. (HT Illustration)

Several other key infrastructure projects across Delhi have been afflicted by similar delays, which officials have often attributed to construction bans due to air pollution and Covid-19 outbreaks. The busy Ashram crossing has, for instance, been at the receiving end of two major projects, one of which (an underpass on Mathura Road) was opened in March this year after construction missed several deadlines and severely impaired traffic.

The second project near the crossing, an extension of the Ashram flyover up to the DND Flyway, is still under construction.

The Pragati Maidan integrated corridor project was opened for traffic two weeks ago, after missing six deadlines, with one of the six underpasses yet to be completed.

The underpass on Benito Juarez Marg is expected to help a clutch of arterial roads in the area. Commuters travelling to AIIMS, Chanakyapuri and Yashwant Place from the airport and Gurugram will now be able to bypass traffic bottlenecks at Outer Ring Road, Dhaula Kuan and Rao Tula Ram Marg, officials said.

Sisodia, who is also the state Public Works Department (PWD) minister, said it is one of the first underpasses in Delhi to be built in a “Y-shape”.

“The underpass is a marvel of engineering and will provide a pleasant and safer travel experience to the commuters,” he said.

“It is the Arvind Kejriwal government’s dream to make Delhi’s roads world-class, and not just safer to commute on, but also aesthetically appealing. To make Delhi beautiful, it is important to have good roads,” he said.

After the cabinet’s nod in 2013, construction work on the project began in November 2015, and remained stuck for over 2.5 years due to a delay in shifting several high-tension wires that power a railways traction substation in the area. Between 2015 and 2018, the executing agency was only able to complete 35% of the work on the underpass project.

The original project cost was estimated at 102.4 crore, but the delay, cost of shifting utilities and tree-cutting inflated it to 143.8 crore, officials said. Work was then delayed by air pollution- and pandemic-related construction bans.

A PWD official earlier told HT that shifting utilities on the 11m portion of the Ring Road abutting Satya Niketan was a challenge and slowed the work.

Sarvagya Srivastava, former engineer-in-chief of PWD said the underpass will reduce the load on the arterial roads leading towards central Delhi, especially during peak hours.

“The skywalk, which is part of the project, will make pedestrian movement of students from the educational institutions located in the nearby area easier,” said Srivastava.

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