How long does it take for a brand new overbridge to wear out?

Less than 10 months, if you look at the condition of the Edappally overbridge and the approach road stretching between Edappally and Manjummel on the Kochi-Mangalore National Highway 17.

Fair amount of patchwork has been done on the potholes on the bridge, which was opened in February 2012, and the approach road. The recently executed cover-up jobs, especially on the southern end of the bridge, have started to give away and the holes are emerging again.

Sebastian Babu, an autorickshaw driver at Kunnumpuram for the last 15 years, said the almost four-km stretch between Kunnumpuram Junction and Manjummel Junction have witnessed numerous accidents during the last many months. “Motorists, especially two-wheelers, fall onto the road while trying to avoid gutters. For us autorickshaw drivers, this road has cost much in terms of recurring maintenance works,” he said.

A meeting of the joint coordination committee of trade unions of autorickshaw drivers held on Thursday has decided to organise a dharna in December to draw the Public Works Department’s attention to pathetic condition of the road. Scattered potholes at the traffic signal constantly hold up traffic at Kunnumpuram junction. It is also one of the most accident-prone spots in the city. Two youngsters on a motorcycle from Thuravoor were thrown off their vehicle after fell into a pothole here recently while they were on their way to attend an interview.

“Four or five lives have already been lost in this stretch. How many more lives this road will take?” fumed K.P. Varghese, who runs a tyre repair shop at Kunnumpuram Junction. Ironically, he is a beneficiary of the situation of the road, as there is a surge in the number of customers to his shop with the road taking a heavy toll on vehicle tyres.

Corporation councillor from Kunnumpuram, M.P. Mahesh Kumar, said the fate of the road would remain unchanged unless it was freshly re-laid using the bitumen macadam and bitumen concreting (BMBC) method. “Mere patchwork will not save the road as its base is not strong. The road had to be laid at an old estimate as the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways declined to revise it in keeping with its 2006 estimate,” he said.

Mr. Mahesh Kumar said that continuous agitation with the support of residents’ associations and political parties would be organised until the road is re-laid under BMBC method. He said that if Union Ministry stuck to its technical stand, it should make sure that containers were not allowed through the road till it was properly resurfaced. If so, the patchworks may hold on a bit longer, he said.

A PWD (NH) official said the repair work would begin in two days time. “The Union Ministry is denying funds for BMBC works, saying that the approach roads of the new bridge will invariably sink till the sub-surface settles. But the stretch from Edapally Junction to the bridge’s approach and the stretch beyond the bridge up to Cheranallore will be resurfaced using BMBC. That work will begin in another two months.”

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