Constructing a bridge in two months may seem too ambitious a proposition in this part of the world. But, the corrugated-steel arch bridge linking Gandhinagar with the eastern entry to Ernakulam Junction railway station — work on which began in May-end — is expected to be thrown open to traffic by July-end.
The Greater Cochin Development Authority’s (GCDA) work on the 14-metre-long, eight-metre-wide bridge that will replace the small culvert that existed here is progressing as scheduled, defying the monsoon.
“The advantages are many – the bridge can be built fast and costs approximately Rs.1 crore whereas a conventional bridge would cost Rs. 1.50 crore and takes much more time to build. This type of Korean technology for bridge construction is being adopted for the first time in Kerala. Technicians from Mumbai are expected to arrive in a week to assemble and put the structure in place,” said GCDA chairman N. Venugopal.
He added that the bridge did away with pillars that impeded the free flow of water through the canal beneath.
The GCDA intends to adopt the technology to rebuild a narrow bridge on Sastha Temple Road near Kaloor, if all goes well with the Gandhinagar bridge. “The Kaloor bridge, which is longer, can be built in three months’ time,” Mr. Venugopal said.
Corrugated steel arch bridges are stronger than conventional bridges built using girder-and-slab technology since they have more surface area though requirement of materials is much lesser and piling is less cumbersome. Former general manager of Kerala State Construction Corporation Yacub Mohan George, who is associated with the GCDA’s bridge project, said similar bridges and culverts were built within a few weeks in Mumbai. “Europe has them in plenty, since manpower is more expensive there.”
He said the structure’s arch will hover 1.50 metres above the canal’s high-flood level, ensuring smooth water flow. “The gap might be as low as 30 cm if it were a conventional bridge,” he added.