Mumbai: With no other way, cops refuse to shut dangerous Vakola bridge

Updated: Nov 23, 2019, 07:41 IST | Anurag Kamble | Mumbai

Despite BMC order to shut dilapidated bridge, traffic cops refuse nod after trials on Thursday night and Friday result in huge jams.

The bridge was declared dilapidated in March 2019
The bridge was declared dilapidated in March 2019

Unable to find any viable diversions for the heavy traffic, the police have refused to shut the dangerous bridge on Hans Bhugra Marg in Vakola that connects the CST Road in Kurla to the Western Express Highway (WEH), until an alternative is found. A trial closure on Thursday night and Friday morning saw traffic snarls stretching up to a kilometre during peak hours.

The BMC, MMRDA and Mumbai Traffic Police had diverted traffic to the Vakola Pipe Road and to BKC on Thursday and Friday. But the ensuing chaos prompted the traffic cops to give a strict no to the bridge demolition.

The BMC, after surveying the bridge on the Hans Bhugra Marg near WEH in March, had declared it dangerous for vehicular traffic, saying it is dilapidated. It announced its closure from November 23, which would force thousands of motorists to take alternative routes. The civic body suggested Nehru Road, Military Camp Road and BKC as possible diversions.

The cops conducted the trials for an hour each day in order to assess the impact of the closure. "Cars were stranded as far up the road as 1 km," said a traffic police officer. "This road is essential for traffic to move smoothly towards Kurla-Chembur. Its closure will create chaos," he added.

"So far, we have conducted two trials which did not give expected results. We want to make sure that Mumbaikars face few traffic snarls. The demolition of the bridge is also necessary. We will conduct more trials in the next two to three days," said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic-Suburbs) Sandeep Bhajibhakare.

Commuter Mehmood Vaid said, "Blocking the road leading to Santracruz-Chembur Link Road from WEH will certainly cause huge stress for daily commuters. The new BKC connector can accommodate all the traffic but to reach it there will have many bottlenecks. I travel from Nerul to Andheri every day. This decision will definitely add to my travel time."

The bridge's re-audit was done after the CSMT foot overbridge collapse earlier this year.

Another commuter, Taniya Banerjee, said, "I live in Kohinoor city and my office is at CST Road. Commuting is a breeze. On any normal day, it takes just about 30 minutes to cover the 1.5-km distance. But on Thursday night, it took me over 1.5 hours to reach home due to the traffic jam."

Nov 23
Date of closure declared by BMC

1km
Distance to which traffic snarls extended during trials

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