Weak flyover on Western Express Highway may fall any day
Dindoshi flyover is crumbling, but a blame game between MSRDC and traffic police department is delaying the repairs that the flyover desperately needs to avoid a disaster
If you use the Dindoshi flyover on the Western Express Highway (WEH) every day to travel to south Mumbai, you should know that the bridge has developed cracks. But, repair work is nowhere in sight, thanks to some dithering by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) and the Traffic police.
Cracks seen underneath one of the nine slabs of the Dindoshi flyover that need repairs. Pic/Prashant Waydande
This was the same southbound stretch that was shut from October 1-21 after the road surface caved in. The MSRDC then did basic repairs and enlisted a team from IIT-Bombay to conduct tests on the stretch. The team submitted a report in December, stating that the bridge needed repairs as nine slabs had been damaged (see box).
One lane of the same southbound stretch was closed in October, leading to huge traffic jams then. 10-15 constables had to be deployed to manage the situation. File pic
Subsequently, MSRDC says it wrote to the Traffic police on February 4, asking for permission to close the bridge. However, 45 days later, authorities say the Traffic police are yet to reply.
MSRDC’s Joint Managing Director, S Ramchandani, said, “We have already informed the traffic department and asked them to give us permissions to close three lanes of the southbound of the Dindoshi flyover to carry out the repair work of the nine damaged slabs. But, it seems that the traffic department is not serious about the issue and is yet to revert.”
Highway to hell
The Dindoshi flyover was constructed 13 years ago and nearly 50,000 motorists use this stretch to commute to south Mumbai.
In the letter, MSRDC has asked for three months (February 15-May 15) to repair the cracked road. Despite MSRDC’s warning that no heavy vehicles be allowed on the stretch, buses and trucks continue to ply on it. This puts thousands of lives at risk.
While MSRDC’s letter asked for the bridge to be shut from February 15-May15, a traffic department official said immediate permission wasn’t granted as school and college exams were on, and closing the bridge during the above period would’ve led to chaotic jams.
Bad to worse
WEH users are already experiencing a torrid time, with the construction of a flyover at Kherwadi junction. The last time the Dindoshi flyover was shut partially for repairs, kilometre-long lines of cars could be seen.
Once the flyover is put under repairs again, they can expect to spend hours in their cars. According to sources, the current repair work will take R56 lakh; MSRDC has agreed in principle over the costs.
With the pace at which paperwork is moving, it is highly unlikely that work will be over before the monsoons. Motorists can go via SV Road and Link Road towards south Mumbai, but these routes, too, are known to have huge traffic during peak hours.
Rs 11.5 cr
Cost of construction of Dindoshi flyover
Rs 56 lakh
Approximate cost of repairing the Dindoshi flyover now
Kunal Kadam (25), Goregaon resident
If the bridge is going to get damaged further due to movement of heavy vehicles, then the concerned authorities should repair it on priority.
Gaurang Sheth (29), Santacruz resident
Closure of the bridge for three months will lead to huge traffic jams on the highway. In order that we don’t have to face problems during the monsoon, officials should repair it as soon as possible.
Traffic police says
B S Upadhyay, joint commissioner of police (Traffic), said, “We received the letter and asked them (MSRDC) to keep one or two lanes open for traffic, else there would be a huge traffic problem. We haven’t received any reply from them.” Reacting to comments that they weren’t taking the matter seriously, he said, “If MSRDC is so serious, they should’ve called me to follow up on the matter. I haven’t received any calls, but I’ll look into the matter seriously.”
What the report says
The IIT-B report on the Dindoshi flyover states that there is not one specific reason for the cracks to have appeared on the slabs of the southbound stretch. The report states, “It is not possible to pinpoint any specific reason for the crack in the slabs. However, their nature appears to be primarily structural and due to bending of the slabs. The possible reasons may be due to fatigue, overloading and the curved shape of the bridge in the plan and elevation.”
>> Nine slabs of the bridge need urgent repairs, says report by IIT-B team
>> MSRDC wrote to the Traffic police on February 4, asking permission
>> Repair work will take around three months