Will the fourth bridge across the Godavari ease the traffic congestion that is likely to be a major issue during Pushkarams in July? There is reason for apprehension about the timely completion of the bridge, which was scheduled to be thrown open to vehicular traffic last year.
Incidentally, the contractor, Gammon India Private Limited, was given several extensions by the government even as the construction company attributed the delay to problems associated with land acquisition in the Godavari districts.
The total length of the bridge is 6 km, and it will also have two approach roads on the Rajahmundry (8 km) and Kovvur (1 km) sides. The four-lane bridge will have two abutments, 81 piers and 166 expansion joints.
The objective is to ease traffic congestion on the existing rail-cum-road bridge between Kovvuru and Rajahmundry, which connects Konthamuru, Katheru, Palicherla, and Diwancheruvu villages and joins the National Highway.
Heavy vehicles will not be allowed on the new bridge, which reduces the distance between Chennai and Kolkata by 50 km, besides reducing the traffic burden on the existing rail-cum-road bridge between Rajahmundry and Eluru.
Meanwhile, the project cost has gone up to Rs. 800 crore from the estimated Rs. 512 crore. “We will open one side of the road probably by April 10, and the second side will take another fortnight,” Gammon India in-charge general manager Nageswara Rao said.
For the record, the bridge, the foundation stone for which was laid by then Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy in 2009, was to have been completed in 2012. Gammon India Limited secured two extensions in 2013 and two more in 2014, before the deadline was set as 31 March 2015. However, works continued to be delayed, with the company citing reasons such as land acquisition issues and non-availability of sand. Issues pertaining to 41 cents of Endowment land on the Kovvur side was settled in December last year, paving the way for an approach road.
With all hurdles having been cleared, work on the bridge between Diwanchervu and Kovvur will be completed and thrown open to vehicular traffic in the third week of April, well ahead of Pushkarams, according to C.S.N. Murthy, Superintending Engineer in the Roads and Buildings Department.
According to S. Harikrishna, Superintendent of Police (Rajahmundry urban police district), heavy vehicles will not be allowed on the road-cum-rail bridge or the fourth bridge from mid-June.