Unless you drive a pickup truck, this is going to be a really bumpy monsoon on Mumbai’s roads. Forget tarmac-quality surfaces that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been promising for new roads, as many as 21 of the city’s mostused flyovers such as the Mahalaxmi bridge, the Priyadarshini bridge on Napean Sea Road, the Kemps Corner flyover and theCurrey Road flyover won’t even get their potholes filled properly before the rains.
This, despite the BMC boasting of an approved Rs 41 crore plan to fully repair 21 bridges across Mumbai. The reason? A technical hitch - which translated means, the BMC sat on the proposal for too long before approving it - resulted in most bids coming in too late for work to begin before the rains.
After facing flak for bad roads and bridges last year, the had decided to fill potholes across Mumbai a month before monsoon and also resurface 21 bridges at the cost of Rs 41 crore using the impressive-sounding Mechanised Mastic Asphalt technology.
However, its plan to re-surface these bridges before the rains has come a cropper. The bridges in question are located across the island city as well as the eastern and western suburbs and most of them (See box) have not been resurfaced since 2005.
A case of bad planning
According to documents available with SUNDAY MiD DAY the BMC invited bids for resurfacing these bridges in March 2012 and finalised the contractors in April 2012. Subsequently the proposal was put up before the BMC’s standing committee in July 2012 for approval but some corporators suspected the bids were not above the board and demanded a re-tender. The civic administration then reinvited tenders through an e-tendering process.
Perhaps the contractors were not net savvy or they were not interested any more. But the response this time was tepid. The revised proposals came up before the standing committee again only in December 2012. It was subsequently cleared by the committee, but apparently a little too late for work to begin by May!
“There was a procedural delay. Otherwise all bridges would have got new and strong surfaces before the rains. Now we can only begin work after the monsoons,” said Rahul Shewale, chairman of the standing committee.
No potholes for four years?
Incidentally this is the first time the BMC would have used the mechanised mastic asphalt technology for resurfacing of bridges. In this technology, entire roads are laid mechanically instead of the current process of manually laying the surface. Justifying the expenditure, an official from BMCs road department said while this is a costly technology, it will keep roads pothole-free for at least three to four years.
Only two of the 21 flyovers will now see any repair work before June 15 - the Tilak bridge in Dadar and the TH Kataria bridge in Matunga. Four of the remaining 19 bridges - JSS Bridge in Dadar (E), Keshavsut Bridge in Dadar (W), the Elphinstone Road bridge and the Currey Road bridge - have received no bids at all and may not be repaired even after the monsoons.
An officer from the roads department on the condition of anonymity said, “The mechanised mastic asphalt might be a bit slippery so to get ensure vehicles have better grip, we are putting anti-skidding material on the surface.”
The opposition, meanwhile ,lashed out at the BMC for its failure to repair roads. “This will be a terrible monsoon for motorists as contractors have not even been appointed for various works and even where they have been appointed, work has not yet started,” said Dilip Lande, MNS leader in the BMC.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) too is not optimistic about the condition of roads and bridges. “No proper pre-monsoon work has been done on roads,” said Dhananjay Pisal, NCP leader in the BMC. Aseem Gupta, additional municipal commissioner was not available for comment.
List of bridges that will be resurfaced after October:
>> Mahalaxmi bridge (above the railway station)
>> Gloria bridge (Byculla East)
>> Kemps Corner bridge
>> Princess Street bridge (Marine Lines)
>> French bridge (Grant Road)
>> Saint Merry bridge (Byculla East)
>> Nana Fadnavis bridge (Wadala)
>> Lower Parel bridge (above railway station)
>> Priyadarshini bridge (Napean Sea Road)
>> Govandi bridge
>> YK Tember bridge (Chembur)
>> Veena Nagar bridge (Mulund)
>> Gokhale bridge (Andheri)
>> Ratan Nagar bridge (Dahisar)
>> Gorai Charkop bridge
The lucky two
>> Tilak bridge (Dadar TT)
>> TH Kataria bridge (Matunga)
>> JSS bridge (Dadar East)
>> Kavi Keshavsut bridge (Dadar West)
>> Elphinston bridge
>> Currey Road bridge