Smooth ride from Delhi to Meerut on fully opened expressway
A day after phases 2 and 4 of Delhi-Meerut-Expressway (DME) was formally opened to public, HT on Friday travelled on the stretch and found that travel time to Meerut had reduced significantly, even as authorities were busy ironing out some last-minute issues regarding signage and jaywalking.
The expressway was conceived to cut travel time between Delhi and Meerut to 45 minutes from the present almost two hours and a half hours.
Other than for those going to Meerut, the opening of the expressway has also come as a relief to travellers headed to destinations such as Dehradun, Haridwar, Rishikesh, and also to western UP cities of Muzaffarnagar and Saharanpur.
On Friday, HT got on to the newly opened expressway from near Akshardham and experienced a smooth ride to Partapur in Meerut that was completed in 46 minutes -- earlier, the same journey would have taken 2.5 hours at the minimum.
At certain points on the stretch, personnel from the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) were seen completing minor works such as fixing cables, putting up CCTV cameras, painting crash barriers, and planting saplings. Some minor problems -- of confusing signage and jaywalking -- were noticed near Vijay Nagar in Ghaziabad. The expressway’s interchange with the Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE) was also found blocked from all sides near Dasna.
On Thursday — the day phases 2 and 4 of Delhi-Meerut-Expressway was inaugurated — roadblocks, jaywalking and traffic violations were aplenty, a spot check by HT had found.
On Friday, too, in Dasna, a number of vehicles could be spotted being driven on the wrong side as motorists were clueless about which way they were supposed to go to reach Hapur and Meerut. At that location, the NHAI had installed a signboard marking out the directions for the road at-grade (going towards Hapur). But several travellers going towards Hapur failed to notice that and got on to the expressway stretch towards Meerut.
“Due to the confusing signage, we entered the Meerut expressway instead of going to Moradabad via Hapur. We did not have any other option but to drive on the wrong side and return to Dasna, before switching lanes and going towards Hapur,” said motorist Nripendra Yadav.
“More signage will be put up for better navigation, wherever needed. There is a restriction on the movement of two-wheelers on the expressway,” said Mudit Garg, project director, NHAI.
Jaywalking was also seen at two spots near Vijay Nagar in Ghaziabad and officials said they have started fencing off a 1.5km area on each side of the expressway up to a height of about five feet.
The 82km expressway is divided into four phases — Sarai Kale Khan to UP Gate, UP Gate to Dasna, Dasna to Hapur, and Dasna to Meerut. Phases two and four were opened on April 1, while phase one and three were inaugurated in May 2018 and September 2019, respectively.
The DME comprises 14 lanes, with the three inner lanes on each side serving as a dedicated expressway to Meerut. The outer lanes, four on each side, will serve as a highway.
With the opening of the DME, officials estimate that at least 60,000 passenger car units (PCUs) each day will be able to completely bypass Ghaziabad, Muradnagar, Modinagar and connect to Partapur bypass in Meerut directly.
“The Delhi-Meerut Expressway has come as a huge relief to us. For over a decade, travellers had a tough time going to Meerut via NH-58. Even the erstwhile NH-24 (now part of DME and NH-9) was just a four-lane highway and commuters travelling to Delhi had to face regular jams there,” said SK Maheshwari, resident of Surya Nagar in Ghaziabad.
Commuters travelling from Delhi to Meerut on the DME will have seven entry/exit points to move into or out of the expressway lanes. The speed limit on the DME has been fixed at 100kmph in the jurisdiction of Uttar Pradesh, while it is 70kmph in Delhi.
“The toll collection on DME is yet to commence but we are conducting trials. It is likely to start once a notification on toll rates is issued. The rates are expected to be in the range of ₹1.55 to ₹2.15 per kilometre of distance travelled,” said Garg.
NHAI Officials said for passenger safety, they have also provided emergency call systems every 2km distance on the expressway and have also deployed a mechanical road sweeping machine, ambulance, tow van, and highway patrol van on all four phases.
In the future, commuters on DME will also be able to connect to the proposed Ganga Expressway project, which will connect Meerut with Prayagraj.
“The connectivity will be given to Ganga Expressway about 8km before the DME’s Kashi toll in Meerut. The 14km link is proposed to be completed in two years,” Garg further said.