With road ministry giving its nod, two more lanes, and tunnels stretching 9-odd kms, will be added to the old route, saving commuters half to three-quarters of an hour in the journey
Mumbaikars who drive down to Pune regularly are in for another, shorter, smoother ride. The old Mumbai-Pune Highway is set to get enhanced, shaving a precious 30-45 minutes off their commute. A Rs-3,600 crore augmentation plan for the highway has been cleared by the Union ministry of road and transport, and now the proposal will be placed in front of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) board for final approval.
The old Pune-Mumbai Highway is set for a facelift, thanks to approaching elections. File pic
A source in the corporation said that the overhaul would get a push in coming months as elections are approaching. Speaking to MiD DAY, MSRDC chairman Jaydatta Kshirsagar said, “The good news is that the augmentation plan of the old Mumbai-Pune Highway has recently received clearance from the road ministry. Now, we will keep the proposal in front of the MSRDC board for approval.”
The corporation plans to complete the expansion by 2017. The project will split the old highway and the Mumbai-Pune Expressway (MPE) between Khopoli and Lonavala, reducing the journey time between Mumbai and Pune by another 30-45 minutes. As the construction kicks off, the old highway will be widened from four lanes to six. The MPE will also be expanded from six to eight lanes. Once the plan is discussed in the MSRDC board meet, tenders can be invited. Before the actual work begins, though, the MSRDC will have to get the project cleared from the Union environment ministry.
The tunnelling project is part of MSRDCs’s expansion plan. Tunnels are perhaps the most accident-prone area on the MPE. At present, the MPE has five tunnels, with the 1.5-km-long Kamshet tunnel near Pune being the longest. The only worry for the MSRDC at this stage is the environment ministry’s nod, which may be a bit tricky to acquire since a proposed 7.8-km-long tunnel between Khopoli and Lonavala will pass under the Bhushi dam.
>> According to the plan, the highway will be widened by adding two more lanes to the existing four- and six-lane stretches.
>> Additionally, tunnels will be constructed between Khalapur to Lonavala. The detailed highway-expansion plan mentions two parallel 865-metre and 810-metre bridges, apart from two sets of 1,620- and 7,755-metre-long tunnels from Khalapur to Khopoli, and from Khopoli till Lonavala, respectively.
>> The Khopoli-Lonavala tunnel, once completed, will be the second-longest in the country, second only to the 9-km-long tunnel through the Rohtang Pass.
Rs 3,600 crore
Estimated cost of the augmentation plan cleared by the road ministry
Year by which the revamp is set to be complete