The Widening of the 25-km long Sion-Panvel Highway to ten lanes may have reduced travelling time between the city and its satellite neighbour, but the Vashi toll plaza is gnawing away at any time commuters save.

PWD plans to open the old Vashi bridge to two-wheelers and lightweight vehicles to ease traffic at Vashi toll plazaPWD plans to open the old Vashi bridge to two-wheelers and lightweight vehicles to ease traffic at Vashi toll plaza

Motorists using the highway get stuck in traffic at the toll plaza, which is a bottleneck vehicles line up in large numbers to pay the mandatory toll to enter the city. Saeeyad Noshad (27), a regular commuter, said, “I travel in my car from Chembur to Sanpada. During peak hours after I cross the Vashi bridge it takes 30 minutes for me to just cross the toll plaza.

In addition, the highway expansion work is on, which causes further delays.” Shahnawaz Hussain, a Vashi resident who goes to work in Mumbai, added, “At times, it takes an hour to cross the toll plaza. The spot has become a nightmare during peak hours.”

The Public Works Department plans to open the old Vashi creek bridge to reduce traffic load at the toll plaza; this bridge will be open to two-wheelers and lightweight vehicles in a few days. The bridge is currently being repaired by the PWD, and was closed for traffic after the new bridge which currently vehicles use was built.

Speaking to mid-day, D A Salunke, chief engineer, PWD, said “Almost 70 per cent of the repair work on the bridge has been done. The remaining part would be completed very soon and the bridge will be then be open to traffic.” The highway connects Mumbai to Panvel, passing through suburbs in the satellite city of Navi Mumbai.

Around 50,000 vehicles ply on this highway on a daily basis. The widening project, which began in 2011, is expected to be completed soon, at the cost of Rs 1,220 crore.