Railway completes its share of work, waiting for State Highways to start its work

With Railways having completed its part of the work, the bridge at the Eachanari level crossing on National Highway No 209, is awaiting the State Highways to finish its share of work.

Railway authorities have kept their time-frame in finishing their work, blaming the the State Highways Department for the delay. Railway officials pointed out that delay in bridge works was due to contractual failures.

Tender for the rail overbridge at Eachanari was first floated in September 10 this year.

The previous five tenders failed to materialise owing to difference between the actual cost and the schedule of rates.

Considering the vehicular traffic density on NH 209 which runs from Dindigul to Mysore via Palani, Udumalpet, Pollachi, Coimbatore, Sathyamangalam, Thimbam and Hasanur, a proposal was mooted for construction of a bridge across the level crossing at Eachanari.

The level crossing more than adequately qualified for a bridge as it had the highest number of Train Vehicle Units (Number of vehicles crossing per every train)

With heavy traffic on this section, there used to be a long queue of vehicles even up to two to three kilometres every time the level crossing closed for trains to pass.

On an average, 56 pairs of express trains, four pairs of passenger trains and three to four pairs of goods trains passed through the crossing on the Coimbatore – Palakkad section.

This resulted in the closure of the level crossing at least for a minimum of 30 times (considering that two to three trains cleared every time the level crossing closed). Of the 30 to 35 closures a day, more than 20 to 25 were during the daytime.

After feasibility study, the preliminary works began a couple of years ago.

The project first witnessed a hitch in terms of the National Highways not allocating the funds and wanting the projects to be completed on a Public – Private Partnership (PPP) mode especially in respect of roads to be handed over to NHAI.

Considering the plight of the public, the State came forward to allocate funds and a financial sanction was accorded for provision of compensation for the lands to be acquired to a tune of Rs. 4 crore for 3,269 sqm of land required besides Rs. 9 crore for the bridge construction. The proposal was for a bridge with a total width of 12 m. Of the total width, 10.90 m would be motorable space and the rest 1.10 m was for parapet wall on either side of the bridge, stormwater drain and service lane on either side.

Tenders were floated five times so far since March 2011. In the earlier tenders, the contractors demanded a 16 per cent increase, which was turned down by the tender committee as there was no allocation.

In the last tender, the tender committee came forward for a 12 per cent increase, but the tender never reached the agreement stage.

With the Railways portion of the bridge having been completed and standing as a tall monument highlighting the delay on the part of the State, the official machinery has swung into action to speed up work. According to official sources, after the Superintending Engineer scrutinises the tenders and forwards it to the Tender Committee, a decision would be taken within a month’s time and on signing the agreement, the work was likely to begin.

The authorities would have to construct an approach bridge and road for 400 m on the Pollachi side and another 200 m on the Coimbatore side.

When the works are taken up, the authorities have already identified the Sundarapuram road and Chettipalayam Road for diversion of traffic.

Normally for works of such nature, the contractors got 18 months’ time and this time, considering the urgency, the Highways Department might even ask the contractor to speed up and finish the bridge work faster. If the work begins in November, as planned now, the bridge would likely to be thrown open for traffic by 2013 end or maximum by March 2014.

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