Mahalaxmi Station bridge to be decluttered at a cost of Rs 250 crore
Two new bridges over the railway tracks have been planned to ease pedestrian access, along with a viewing gallery for Dhobi Ghat
Stepping out of Mahalaxmi station onto the crowded bridge outside can be a nightmare at the moment, but this will soon change. The BMC plans to build two new bridges over the railway tracks to relieve the station bridge of congestion.
Currently, every second spent on the congested Mahalaxmi station bridge can feel like hell, and it only gets worse because of the usual gaggle of tourists holding up pedestrians while trying to photograph Dhobi Ghat. Once the BMC's plans come to fruition, though, most people won't be able to resist taking a selfie or two on this stretch.
The authorities will build a cable stayed bridge resembling the Bandra-Worli Sea Link towards Haji Ali, and a semi-through girder bridge like the Howrah Bridge in Kolkata towards Worli. Graphic/Uday Mohite
The big picture
The Rs 250-crore project, will not only decongest the station bridge, but will also change the look of the area entirely. While the BMC is funding the project, the work will be divided between the civic body and the Western Railways, since the bridges will cross over railway tracks. On one side, the authorities will build a 165-metre long cable stayed bridge (resembling the Bandra-Worli Sea Link) on Keshavrao Khade Marg, which connects New Shirine Talkies to Mahalaxmi Racecourse towards Tardeo. On the other side, a 130-metre semi-through girder bridge (resembling Howrah Bridge in Kolkata) on Dr E Moses Marg will connect Sant Gadgemaharaj Chowk to Famous Studio towards Worli.
The plan to construct the two bridges was taken from the suggestions made in the Comprehensive Mobility Plan published in 2015. Based on the report, the 70-year-old bridge has a high traffic volume, with an hourly average of around 2,379 vehicles travelling towards Saat Rasta (Jacob Circle) and an hourly average of 1,768 vehicles travelling towards Dr E Moses Road.
Civic officials said that while 60 per cent of the traffic uses the Mahalaxmi station bridge to travel towards Worli, around 30 per cent use the route to go towards Haji Ali. "Only 5-10 per cent of the vehicles use the route to get to Mahalaxmi station. Currently, it is difficult for people to walk or hail a taxi there because the road is congested. Once the other two bridges have been constructed, the bridge will largely be used by pedestrians, tourists and private cars or taxis which are dropping off commuters at the railway station," said a civic official from the bridges department. He added that the BMC is planning to prevent heavy vehicles from using the bridge once the other flyovers are functional.
Playing to the gallery
While the plan is still in its nascent stage, officials from the G-South ward office said that they have been toying around with the idea of also creating a viewing gallery for tourists interested in the 140-year-old Dhobi Ghat. Currently, these visitors - many of whom are foreigners - hold up foot traffic on the already crowded bridge during their attempts to take pictures of the landmark.
"We want to give tourists a proper place where they can stand and view the Dhobi Ghat. We also want to ensure that pedestrian movement is not interrupted by these tourists.
The drawings for the viewing gallery are being finalised and we will figure out other details of the plan," said a senior civic official. Under ideal circumstances, the construction of the bridges would take around two years. However, since two government agencies will have to coordinate on the project, civic officials expect it to take longer. BMC officials said they are planning to float the tender for the project by May.
In the meantime, the Corporation will also take up major repairs of Mahalaxmi station bridge, to structurally strengthen it at the cost of around Rs 6 crore. The tender for this work was floated last year, and the work is expected to begin this year. It is expected to take around 16 months to complete.
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