A few hiccups await motorists who use the Salim Rajan overbridge that is expected to be commissioned in the first week of April.
Though the new bridge, which runs parallel to the Pullepady overbridge, will considerably decongest Pullepady, North and South bridges, its narrow approach road on the western side (near the KSRTC bus stand) and the sharp curves in the stretch are yet to be widened. These will make the ride tough through the stretch since the road in its current form will be unable to accommodate the manifold increase in number of vehicles.
The junction where Rajaji Road meets Chitoor Road, and the Abad Plaza Hotel junction on MG Road too will be bottlenecked unless the bell mouths here are widened by Kochi Corporation. Vehicles that are parked on either side of the Rajaji Road will further choke traffic, unless parking is banned on the road.
The DMRC, which is building the Salim Rajan bridge, had sent a detailed estimate worth Rs 28 lakh to the District Collector to widen two curves – in front of the KSRTC stand and in front of Ambedhkar Stadium. But the district administration is yet to begin the land-acquisition process.
Traffic will be chaotic unless the road in front of the KSRTC stand is widened by a few metres. To a question on why Kochi Corporation refused to widen the road, curves and junctions, Mayor Tony Chammany said the bridge was built as part of Kochi Metro’s preparatory works. “It is up to the State government and the district administration to widen the approach roads.” But he said bell mouths will be widened wherever possible.
New bus route possible
The new bridge will also throw open the possibility of operating buses through the new route which will link the Kaloor-Kadavanthra Road with the KSRTC stand. Though a few buses were expected to be rerouted through Pullepady bridge, it was dropped because of the notoriously narrow approach roads owned by Kochi Corporation.
The Ernakulam RTO, B J Antony, said the KSRTC must take the initiative in operating buses through the new bridge.
“We are not in a position to issue new permits to private buses since there is a cap of 630 private buses in the city. But existing private bus services can seek ‘permit variation’ and ply along the route,” he said.
Elaborating on the progress of works over the Rs 20 crore Salim Rajan bridge, DMRC sources said its girders over the railway lines will be laid on February 23 midnight. “Three girders will be joined together and made a 47-metre-long composite girder with a width of 11.3 metres.” A motorized trolley will push the girders into place, following which slabs will be placed over them. The bridge surface will not be tar coated. The two-lane carriageway will be 7.5 metres wide, with a footpath on one side.