This monsoon, those traveling from Navi Mumbai and Thane towards South Mumbai will not have to twiddle their thumbs on Dr Ambedkar road that is synonymous with waterlogging and traffic jams.
Reason? The motorists will be able to use the eastern freeway that will be thrown open by the end of this month by Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). The eastern freeway will provide fast connectivity between Shivaji Chowk in Chembur and South Mumbai, thus cutting down the travel time via the Dr Ambedkar road from almost an hour to 25 to 30 minutes.
The 9.29-km-long first part of the Eastern Freeway and the 4.3-km long Anik-Panjarpol Link Road will be thrown open together later in May. The 13.59-km signal-free stretch will ease the commuters’ traffic woes to a great extent. The road will also decrease the traffic burden from P D’Mello Road and Port Road. This signal-free, fast corridor is expected to improve connectivity between the Island city and eastern suburbs.
“The work of the eastern freeway is almost complete,” said Metropolitan Commissioner UPS Madan. “In a few days, it will be thrown open for vehicular traffic.” When questioned about the opening date of the freeway, the official refused to comment. However, highly placed sources from the MMRDA said, “It is expected to be thrown open in third or fourth week of this month. In the presentation given to the chief secretary a few days ago, it was stated that the eastern freeway will be thrown open on May 20.”
At present, motorists travel from Shivaji Chowk, Chembur, to CST Station via Dr Ambedkar road – a 20 kms stretch. Traffic on Dr Ambedkar gets badly hit during the monsoons due to waterlogging in low-lying areas of Bhartmata, Hindmata and Matunga. Sometimes, the traffic under flyovers has to be diverted due to the waterlogging. With the opening of eastern freeway, this problem will will get resolved to a large extent.
“The eastern freeway project is an important project that will solve commuter and motorist woes to some extent,” said transport expert Jitendra Gupta. “Once this road is operational, it will not only bring down the volume of traffic on Dr Ambedkar road, but will also cut down the travel time by half between Shivaji Chowk in Chembur and CST. MMRDA should make sure that there is an arrangement for public transport on the same.”
Being the country’s first and only twin-tunnel built within city limits, it is expected that the eastern freeway will serve as a magnet for tourists. Starting at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre hill, it ends at Gautam Nagar near Panjarpol. Both passageways in the tunnel are 500 mts in length. Only one tunnel will be thrown open now. The other will be operational next year. The twin tunnels are 505 mts and 555 mts in length, 17 meters in width and 10 metres in height.
There will be four carriageways in each tunnel. The tunnels are 7 metres apart. The motorists using the flyover won’t witness bumpy rides when their vehicles pass over expansion joints of the flyover, because special care has been taken by the MMRDA while carrying out the black topping of bitumen layer on road surface of the elevated portion of the eastern freeway.
The elevated portion of the Eastern Freeway is failry earthquake resistant and it can stand up to an earthquake of 7.5 Richter scale.
The elevated portion has been designed specially for heavy trailers or multi-axel vehicles.
16 lakh cement bags were used for the construction of the elevated portion.
Steel crash barriers have been installed in the median of the road so that vehicles can be stooped from going into the opposite lane during accidents.
The 13.59 km stretch has been constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 900 crore.
The work on the freeway began in January 2009
The remaining 2.5 km stretch from Panjarpol to Ghatkopar will open for public in the next four months
Pre-freeway: Distance: 20 km between Shivaji Chowk, Chembur, and CST, via Dr Ambedkar Road
Time taken: 45-60 minutes
Post-freeway: Distance: 14-16 km via Eastern Freeway
Time Taken: 20-30 minutes