Bridging the gap

Updated: Dec 01, 2019, 08:27 IST | Prajakta Kasale | Mumbai

Following the FOB collapse in CST, the BMC has been on a maha bridge-repair spree, inconveniencing lakhs of pedestrians. Sunday mid-day does an assessment of the work in progress

Pic/Nimesh Dave
Pic/Nimesh Dave

While vehicular traffic in the city has been disrupted due to the perennial pothole-problem and the haphazard Metro construction work, pedestrians using the city's bridges are not having it any easy either. There are a total of 344 bridges—including foot over-bridges and road over-bridges—and 24 skywalks in the city. But, of these, 176 are currently undergoing repairs, with 61 having major work going on, and 29 of them being reconstructed. This has left pedestrians with 192 bridges to use. Incidentally, while the audit of these bridges began in 2016, the BMC only started repair work on a war-footing after the Himalaya FOB collapsed in CST in March this year, killing 7. Nine months earlier, in July 2018, Gokhale bridge in Andheri partially collapsed, resulting in two deaths.

The spate of incidents led the BMC to re-inspect all the bridges again. CV Kand Consultants was asked to conduct a fresh audit in the western suburbs, while Structwel Designers & Consultants Pvt. Ltd was handed over the task of looking at bridges in the eastern suburbs. DD Desai was allotted bridges in the island city.
The country's richest municipal corporation may not have an issue with dispensing money for repair work, but streamlining a mammoth task like this one, has its own challenges. For starters, the BMC needs permissions from the traffic police, and other agencies, including the Railways, to ensure other amenities remain unaffected. The next issue is of rehabilitating occupants, either legal or illegal, under the bridges.

But, considering the poor health of most bridges, the BMC has been forced to start tendering and repair work. While it will take two to three years for minor and major repairs to be completed, reconstruction of bridges will take at least five years, a civic official said. The biggest sufferers are going to be the pedestrians. Here's a ground report of the status of repairs on some of the major bridges in Mumbai.

Gokhale bridge

After the footpath of the bridge collapsed on July 3, 2018, a fresh audit was conducted. While the middle portion of the bridge on the railway tracks is in good condition, the pillars and beams on either side are corroded. The BMC will demolish and construct that part without any dimensional changes.

Where: North side of the Andheri Railway station
Age of Structure: 49 years
Repair Period: 18 months
Status: Tendering process is on. Work to begin early next year
Cost: Rs 87.61 crore
Challenge: This bridge connects the east and west parts of Andheri. It will be difficult to arrange an alternate route if the bridge is demolished

Carnac Bunder bridge

Carnac Bunder bridge

The fate of this bridge, which is currently in a dilapidated condition, is in limbo due to the delay in the reconstruction of Hancock bridge. The Carnac bridge at Masjid station was to be demolished and rebuilt after the Carnac project was completed. Pedestrians, meanwhile, continue to put their lives at risk.

Where: Adjacent to Masjid railway station
Age of Structure: 154 years
Repair Period: Not decided
Status: Not demolished
Cost: Tender process yet to begin
Challenge: Can't be demolished until work of reconstruction of Hancock bridge is complete


Pics/Ashish Raje
Pics/Ashish Raje

Marine Lines bridge

Also known as Princess Street Flyover, the bridge was previously under the category of minor repairs in the audit report prepared by DD Desai. In the second report by Structwel, the bridge was marked for major structural repairs.

Where: North side of Marine Lines railway station. The bridge connects Marine Lines to Marine Drive
Age of Structure: 50 years
Repair Period: 18 months
Status: Work is on
Cost: BMC will be spending a total of Rs 24 crore to repair this bridge along with five others (Belasis, Reay Road, Vidya Bhavan, Kemps Corner and Kennedy bridges)
Challenge: High-profile shops located underneath the flyover, have been restricting access

Pic/Nimesh Dave
Pic/Nimesh Dave

Oshiwara bridge

The 55-metre bridge over Oshiwara nullah on SV Road was closed from June 10 to August 7, creating a traffic issue in the western suburbs. Now, the bridge is only open for light vehicles with a height barrier.

Where: On SV Road, between Jogeshwari and Goregaon
Age of Structure: 50 years
Repair Period: 12 months
Status: Major repairs have been done. The reconstruction order, however, has still not been given
Cost: Rs 15 crore
Challenge: Vehicles will have to take a longer route via Behrambaug Road, Relief Road, Link Road or the Western Express Highway once the bridge reconstruction begins

Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

Laxmi Baug nullah bridge

A re-audit of bridges in the eastern and western parts of the city revealed that 15 more bridges were in dilapidated condition; the Ghatkopar-Laxmi Baug nullah was one of them. The BMC repaired it by putting iron sheets to give additional support to the structure, reopening it for light vehicles. The new bridge will be 45 metres wide, instead of 22 metres.

Where: Ghatkopar depot
Age of Structure: 42 years
Repair Period: 18 months
Status: Tendering process is completed and the work order will be issued in the next month
Cost: Rs 19 crore
Challenge: It was the first bridge, which closed for traffic after a re-audit, creating a huge chaos. A new extended portion on either side will be constructed first

Chinchpokli bridge

Chinchpokli bridge

The Railways had asked IIT to carry out a structural audit of this bridge. The IIT recommended to scrape out extra layers of asphalt, added over the years. The BMC then appointed a contractor in August this year for the same. While the contractor is ready, the Railways needs an IIT expert on the site, when work is on. "The Chinchpokli bridge along with 15 others, will be reconstructed in the future, but as a stop-gap measure we have decided to scrape and resurface the stretch to increase its life," said a BMC officer.

Where: Adjacent to Chinchpokli and Currey Road railway stations
Age of Structure: Over 125 years
Repair Period: Six months
Status: Yet to start
Cost: The total contract of scraping 16 bridges, including this one is Rs 14.4 crore
Challenge: The bridges are crucial for traffic movement and can't be closed for a long time as Mahalaxmi, Currey Road and Elphinstone bridges cannot take an additional load of traffic

Hancock bridge

Built in 1879, the bridge was named after Colonel HF Hancock, who was the president of the Bombay Municipal Corporation. The bridge was demolished in January 2016, after it was declared unsafe by the Central Railway. The first contractor appointed by BMC was blacklisted in a road scam related case. Sai Projects was appointed in February 2018.

Where: Near Sandhurst Road railway station
Age of Structure: 140 years
Repair Period: Five years
Status: Fifty percent of girders are on site. CR has invited tenders to shift overhead wires.
Cost: Rs 51.7 crore
Challenge: The issue of rehabilitation of slumdwellers in the area has caused hurdles in the project's progress. It was only on March 9 this year that the shanties in and B and E Wards were finally demolished. The lack of coordination between BMC and the Railways is also a cause of concern, as the bridge is built over railway tracks. Half of the bridge can only be reconstructed after a mega block

Pic/Nimesh Dave
Pic/Nimesh Dave

Juhu Tara Road bridge

The bridge was completely shut for vehicular traffic from June 3 and August 9 this year, after being declared dilapidated in the re-audit report. Now the bridge is open only for light vehicles with height restriction barriers. There was a controversy after experts from Citizens' Technical Advisory Committee (CTAC) objected to putting an extra layer of slab on the bridge. However, the BMC claimed that the decision was taken in consultation with Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI).

Where: Near SNDT College and Juhu beach, connects Bandra and Juhu
Age of Structure: 45 years
Repair Period: Four months
Status: Yet to begin
Cost: Rs 15.34 crore
Challenge: Continuous traffic on this stretch. The traffic police has diverted vehicles to SV Road and Vaikunthlal Mehta Marg in Vile Parle; SNDT college has also allowed traffic from the internal road

Lower Parel bridge

Lower Parel bridge

After the collapse of Gokhale bridge, the Railways had conducted a survey with the help of IIT experts. The experts recommended closing the bridge immediately for traffic, as the structure
was corroded.

Lower Parel bridge

Where: Near Lower Parel railway station
Age of Structure: Over 100 years
Repair Period: Will be ready by December 2022
Status: Work is on since last year
Cost: Rs 84 crore for portion to be repaired by Railways. The civic body has floated tenders worth R94 crore
Challenge: There are three entry points to the bridge—one goes towards Currey Road, one towards Worli and the last towards the north. These approach roads will be constructed by the BMC. The civic body will construct a slope, but only after Western Railway constructs a portion on their track

Mahalaxmi bridge

Mahalaxmi bridge

On an average, around 4,000 vehicles pass through the bridge every hour. The number sometimes goes up to 6,000 per hour. BMC officials planned to build two bridges. The new bridge from Dhobighat to E Moses bridge will be able to carry 2,500 vehicles per hour, while the new cable-stayed bridge connecting Keshavrao Khade Road with E Moses Road will be able to ply 3,500 vehicles per hour. As of now, the old bridge is being repaired at a cost of R6 crore.

Where: Adjacent to Mahalaxmi railway station
Age of Structure: 99 years
Repair Period: 18 months
Status: To be ready by December 2020
Cost: Rs 460 crore for two new bridges
Challenge: The area underneath the flyover has been given to shop-owners by the estate department of the BMC

Tilak bridge

In the structural audit carried out after the Gokhale bridge collapse, the bridge was mentioned under the major repairs category.

Where: South side of Dadar station
Age of Structure: 96 years
Repair Period: 18 months
Status: The proposal for repairs is yet to be sanctioned by the standing committee of the BMC
Challenge: It is an old bridge. While repairing it will increase the life of the structure, reconstructing it is the better option

Escalating costs

The bridge department has cleared contracts at costs nearly three times higher than the market value, to ensure speedy reconstruction of seven bridges in the city. These include Vakola-Hansbhurga, Malad Link Road, Dhobighat, SNDT-Juhu Tara Road, Meghwadi major nullah, Dahisar River bridge and Piramal nullah bridge. The total cost of the reconstructions comes to R95.39 crore. According to the proposal, the seven bridges will be constructed on design-build-transfer basis. The maximum duration of reconstruction of the bridge is six months. Though the standing committee approved the proposal in September, the work is awaiting clearance from the traffic police department.

'Don't dance on ROBs'

The civic authority has identified 20 ROBs, four in the Central Line and 16 in the Western Line, which could be dangerous in case of extra load. The BMC has already issued an advisory, warning against dancing on the bridge during the Ganpati procession.

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