Street lights to be installed in ghat section of Pune-Mumbai expresswayUpdated: Jul 01, 2020 00:15 IST
In a bid to reduce the number of accidents on the Pune-Mumbai expressway and upgrade its safety arrangements, the Maharashtra Highway Police (MHP) department along with the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) will install ‘street lights’ in the ghat section.
The expressway witnessed 306 accidents in 2019 (including fatal, serious and minor injuries) along with 138 mishaps which did not result in injuries. Till May this year, the expressway had recorded 46 accidents (including fatal, serious and minor injuries) along with 12 mishaps which did not result in injuries. The reduced number of mishaps has also been attributed to the decreased vehicle movement on the expressway due to the lockdown in March, April and May, according to officials.
This will be the first time when street lights will be installed on the expressway for better visibility at night, according to officials. The decision comes after MSRDC recently conducted survey wherein officials recorded that lower visibility increased the risk of road mishaps there.
Vijay Patil, superintendent of police, Maharashtra Highway Police, said, “Monsoon brings heavy rains to the ghat section on the expressway and hence, we conducted a pre-monsoon survey with the help of MSRDC. Street lights will be installed along the entire ghat section of the expressway for better visibility in the region. The estimated cost of the project is ~ 7.5 crore. Street lights are being installed on the expressway for the first time. In the ghat section, tunnel work will continue simultaneously, but it will take another two years to complete and we want to reduce the number of accidents in the coming two years.”
According to the state highway police and MSRDC, if things go according to plan, the actual work of installing the street lights is likely to start in the next couple of months.
While the entire ghat section is 18km long, lights will be installed on the 10km stretch between Khandala and Khopoli. The Pune-Mumbai expressway, officially named as the Yashwantrao Chavan Expressway, has been operational since 2002. It is the country’s first six-lane concrete high-speed highway with a total of 94.5km joining Pune and Mumbai.
Maximum fatal accidents have been reported on the expressway in 2016, in which 151 people died.
“In our study of accident patterns in the ghat section, it was revealed that most of the accidents happen when vehicles ram into the motorist in front of them. One of the reasons behind this could be that the driver had not been able to judge the exact distance between the vehicles and hence, street lights can provide good visibility to them,” he added.
In 2019, there were 22 fatal accidents in the ghat section of the expressway, starting from km 45 to km 36 which is a slope in the ghats, according to Patil. To prevent further accidents, MSRDC has on a trial basis installed blinkers, reflectors and rumbler strips on a one kilometre patch in the ghat section. This, according to officials, offered positive results as there had been no accidents in the same patch in the past six months.
Vipul Alekar, a businessman and regular commuter between Pune and Mumbai, said, “I frequently travel to Mumbai from Pune for my business meetings and in the ghat section it is really risky to drive, specially at night. In the rainy season, we cannot see the vehicles in front of us and if street lights are installed, there will be more visibility.”
Tanmay Pendse, an activist working for the safety of commuters using the expressway, said, “It is a very positive decision for the safety of travellers using the e-way. But it should have been done earlier and is a decision too late, according to me. There is always a visibility issue during the monsoon which leads to accidents, now after installing the lights, it will help drivers see clearly and judge the distance between vehicles.”