How safe is city's latest architectural marvel?

On February 15, the very day that it was inaugurated, the Bharatratna JRD Tata flyover at Nashik Phata witnessed a car accident, raising safety concerns for citizens. MiD DAY surveys the state’s first two-tier bridge and tells you where you should drive carefully

The state’s first double-decker flyover, inaugurated by deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar at Nashik Phata in Pimpri last Saturday, has become a centre of attraction for the public, and somewhat of an experience for those passing through it.

But an accident on the very day that the two-tier bridge was inaugurated has brought to the fore certain safety issues for commuters, as well as pitfalls in the construction of the structure.

Go slow, dangerous curves ahead: At the centre of the flyover’s upper deck, an acute turn is risky for vehicles. Pics/Mohan Patil

MiD DAY surveyed the bridge commissioned by the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) yesterday, two days after the mishap, to understand the design flaws and see how the new structure, which has got Punekars excited, is helping reduce traffic load.

Stopping for a view: The sharp turn on the upper bridge, near which commuters have been halting their vehicles. Pics/Mohan Patil

The upper tier, which is a one-way bridge from Pune on the old Mumbai-Pune Highway goes towards Nashik Highway or Bhosari. It is 9.5 metres wide, 913 metres long, and 20 metres from the ground level. There is a sharp turn on this bridge, which is a bit risky for drivers, especially those moving at a considerable speed. At such a height, making a turn warrants caution from drivers.

A dead-start: The footpath that begins from the middle of the lower bridge

Also, after the inauguration on Saturday, people stopped their vehicles and leaned over the bridge to take in the view at this spot, crowding the turning spot to click photos. There was nobody to monitor the traffic or tell them to keep moving.
Commuters also said that, thus far, traffic flow on the road below has not eased, but the authorities beg to differ.

A middling start
Strangely enough, the footpaths on the lower bridge, from Bhosari side, begin halfway through the bridge: they are incomplete. They start in the middle and continue till the Sangvi end. Pedestrians have to walk through the BRTS (bus rapid transit system) track till the middle of the bridge and then turn to the footpath. Also, the pavements have been blocked by small dividers at the entry and exit, which might be a hurdle for many pedestrians.

PCMC says
PCMC executive engineer Shrikant Savane told MiD DAY, “Complete precautions have been taken for the turnings on both the bridges, and we have installed rumblers and reflectors at the turning points. Currently, yes, the footpath on the lower bridge is looking incomplete, but we are working over the foot over-bridge on the old Pune-Mumbai highway.

The tender process is going on and within one month the work will start. After the bridge is completed it will be joined to the footpath on the lower bridge till then people are requested to be careful while walking through this bridge. Also we appeal to public that on the upper bridge which is one way no one should stand for clicking photos on the turn and police should also look after it and do not allow to do so.”

Assistant police inspector S S Pathan said, “After it inauguration, the bridge has helped reduce traffic from Pune towards Bhosari and Nashik. We are keeping continuous watch and are patrolling the bridge. If we find people clicking photos, we ask them to leave.”

He added, “In the future, on trial basis, we will completely divert the traffic from Pune towards Nashik or Bhosari via the upper bridge. The lower bridge has reduced the traffic coming from Sangvi on the old Pune-Mumbai Highway, and people cross the highway in considerably less time.”

Flyover facts
Name: Bharatratna JRD Tata Flyover

Project started by: Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation

Location: Kasarwadi; where Pune-Nashik Highway meets Mumbai-Pune Highway

Work began: July 2010

Cost: Rs 103.51 crore

The mishap on Inauguration Day

The accident which took place on the lower bridge of the flyover on the night of February 15, at around 8.30 pm, involved an Innova car (MH 12 DG 4962) coming from Bhosari towards Pune.

When the driver could not figure out the separate lanes of the flyover while turning towards Pune on the old Pune-Mumbai Highway, the car rammed into the bridge’s divider.

No one was injured and the vehicle was immediately towed away with the help of the crane.

The overall work of the bridge is good. It will definitely benefit heavy vehicles, saving them a lot of time. But no measures have been taken for pedestrians coming from the Bhosari side. How can a footpath be blocked in the middle of the bridge? This is completely wrong, and in future, when the BRTS starts, pedestrians will have to risk their lives walking on this bridge.
- Bharat Borate, pedestrian on the flyover

Though this bridge has been thrown open to the public, the traffic on the road below has not yet come down, many people still use the ground-level route. It appears to be dangerous to pass through such a height, and vehicles are speedy through the upper bridge. Also, vehicles coming from Sangvi towards Bhosari cannot turn to Pune on the right side and they have to take a long turn.
- Dattatray Lande, Bhosari resident

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