Proposed Vashi bridge caught in a tug-of-war

Even though the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has made it clear that it will not fund the proposed Rs 600 crore bridge passing over Thane creek, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) officials are stating that it will go ahead with the project.

Is it necessary? With the MMRDA constructing the MTHL, which would connect Mumbai to Navi Mumbai, the traffic volume on the Vashi bridge would be reduced. But with MSRDC keen to construct a parallel bridge to the existing one it is a waste of time, said MMRDA officials. File pic

Senior MMRDA officials had earlier made it clear that since they will be constructing the 22-km Mumbai trans-harbour link that will connect the island city to Nhava, there is no need to construct another bridge. MMRDA officials feel that their proposed six-lane freeway will solve the traffic congestion on the Sion-Panvel highway, and to some extent reduce the traffic load on the arterial highway.

But MSRDC, who are reportedly facing a financial crunch are keen on the project. Speaking to MiD DAY after a board meeting held on Friday, MSRDC Vice Chairman and Managing Director Bipin Srimali said, “The widening of the Sion-Panvel highway is already in progress, and after completion the volume of traffic on this road will increase. Hence, we have plans to construct a bridge parallel to the present one, which connects Mumbai with Navi Mumbai.”

MSRDC officials had even said that the estimated cost of the bridge is Rs 600 crore, and they will be taking financial aid from MMRDA and CIDCO for the same. When Srimali was notified about senior MMRDA official’s intentions of not funding the project, he refused to comment, but informed that they would follow the state government’s decision on the same.

‘Why us?’
“Why should we fund a project that MSRDC is planning? MSRDC should understand that building this bridge is inconsequential, as MMRDA is constructing the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) project. Rather than wasting time and money, the MSRDC should first conduct a proper research before coming up with such projects,” said a senior MMRDA official, on condition of anonymity.

“We will write to MSRDC that we won’t be able to fund the project, as we have to look after our other projects. But if the state government asks us to the fund them, then we will,” added the senior MMRDA official.

Justifying the need for a new bridge, MSRDC Chief Engineer S Nandargikar said, “The Sion-Panvel highway is currently being increased to 10 lanes, while there are only six lanes on the Vashi Bridge. This is likely to cause bottlenecks, hence it is essential to build a parallel bridge with more lanes.” It should also be noted that the ambitious MTHL project was initially going to be implemented by MSRDC, but was later transferred to MMRDA.

Grandiose plans?
According to the plans, MSRDC plans to construct two bridges — of three lanes each — on either side of the existing bridge linking Mumbai to Navi Mumbai. The estimated cost of the two bridges is Rs 600 crore, and presently documentation work is in process to invite bids from interested parties. 

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