The Edapally overbridge, work on which began about a decade ago, is scheduled to be commissioned by the end of August.
The delay proved costly to the public exchequer, with the construction cost doubling from Rs 18 crore to over Rs 36 crore. Though the Railways had completed the portion over the rails about five years ago, the PWD (NH wing) was unable to build the bridge's side arms. The 600-metre long, two-lane bridge has a 7.5-metre-wide tarred surface.
There is a footpath on one side. The bridge has 1.50-km-long approach roads on either side. The work on the final span and approach span slabs is pending. Tarring too has to be done.
Once completed, the bridge would speed up traffic on the NH 17 that begins from Edapally. Currently, vehicles have to wait for long at the busy level crossing.
Sources in the PWD (NH wing) said that the inordinate delay occurred because Kayikkara Constructions, the contracting firm that first took up the bridge work, was unable to complete the project.
There was widespread public protest against the PWD, following which the firm was blacklisted. Subsequently, the pending work was retendered twice and in 2010 the contract was awarded to Cherian Varkey Construction Company for Rs 21.76 crore.
Though the bridge would be a boon to commuters, a few residents' associations have demanded that service roads be built parallel to the bridge. “This is because four existing bus stops would become redundant once buses are re-routed through the new bridge,” said K A Francis, general secretary of the Mahatma Gandhi Residents' Association, Ponekkara.
People residing in between the Al Ameen School and Kunnumpuram would have to travel over a kilometre to reach the nearest bus stop. Wide service roads would enable them to walk or take an autorickshaw and gain access to new bus stops through the bridge's underpass, he said.
Even if the bridge is ready in over a month, commuting through the pothole-ridden Edapally-Cheranalloor-Paravur Road would continue to be a nightmare.
“We had arranged the repair works in 2010, but contractors are demanding more money, citing rise in construction cost. The Government is yet to revise the rates for road works,” said sources in the PWD.