Gurugram elevated roads crack four months after opening
A few days after a concrete slab fell from the Hero Honda Chowk flyover, leading to a pothole in the structure, cracks have been noticed on two elevated U-turns and an elevated road at Iffco Chowk. The cracks are so wide that the road below is visible through them.
National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) officials said that these were not cracks, but gaps in slabs that need to be filled at the earliest. “These are gaps between construction joints. Proper action will be taken soon and material will be inserted in the gaps for safety. A road safety audit has been carried out, but the structures have not been issued completion certificates yet,” said Ashok Sharma, project director, NHAI, Gurugram.
However, Hindustan Times visited the spot and found that these cracks were perpendicular to the construction joints, and were not, as claimed by the NHAI, ‘gaps between construction joints’.
These cracks appeared near two slab joints on an elevated U-turn from MG Road towards New Delhi that had been opened on a trial basis in November last year. The cracks are located where the structure curves downwards, proving to be very dicey for vehicles whose speed would increase at this spot.
Similar cracks have appeared on an elevated U-turn constructed for commuters travelling from Sukhrali towards MG Road; this stretch has not been opened for trial yet. Widening gaps between the slabs of an elevated flyover adjacent to Iffco Chowk are also posing a question mark on the quality of construction and structural stability of these structures.
Explaining the reason for the cracks’s appearance on the Iffco Chowk flyover, an NHAI engineer, on condition of anonymity, said, “The cracks appeared due to a change in temperature. The structure is 100% safe.”
He said that the two separate slabs on the flyover had different piers and pier caps; moreover, keeping in mind the contraction and expansion of the material, a mandatory longitudinal joint had already been put in place. However, to maintain the riding quality of the road, a wearing coat had been laid on the whole width of the deck, which did not fare well as the temperature rose.
The engineer also said that the contractor had been directed to provide the best treatment possible to control the expansion and contraction of the bituminous concrete so that the aesthetic and riding quality of the structure were maintained.
“The size, length and width of the cracks indicate a failure in design, as well as construction. The damaged area needs to be broken and recast. Other areas of the flyover must be tested as well. The flyover should be opened to the public only after it receives proper certification from the concerned authority, which must test it for load capacity, quality of construction, and design. Any heavy vehicle passing over the flyover right now will further widen the crack and turn the entire structure into a death trap,” said Sewa Ram, professor, transport planning, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi.
The authorities were given a deadline of 15 months to complete the structures that were opened for traffic in November and December last year. The elevated flyover at Iffco Chowk has not officially been opened to the public yet, because of the presence of high tension electric poles on the route, but commuters have started using it.
“Sometimes, the structures are opened to traffic before time, and this premature opening can lead to cracks. It may lead to accidents as well if two-wheeler tyres get stuck in the gaps. Deflection tests are required to check the structures’ strength, so that weak portions can be repaired at the earliest,” said Ram.
“These structures are located on an expressway where speed limits are very high. In these conditions, if a pothole or crack on the surface is found, then it will be very dangerous for two-wheeled as well as four-wheeled vehicles. They should at least be inspected on a daily or weekly basis by the NHAI and these stretches should be pothole- and crack-free for the safety of commuters,” said Gurpreet Singh Thakur, road safety associate with Haryana Vision Zero, a program to reduce road accidents.
NHAI authorities have said that an overall structural test of all elevated U-turns, elevated roads, and the underpass at MG road would be carried out once all structures were ready.