A good share of bridges built by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) or maintained by it in the city are neck-deep in trouble.
Traffic has been banned through three of them after they were declared unsafe, while vehicles move at a snail’s pace through the ill-maintained bridge on the north-western side of Vyttila Junction.
The latest to join the list of bridges that are out of bounds for vehicles is the Kumbalam-Aroor bridge on Edappally-Aroor NH 47 Bypass. As a result, vehicles in both directions have to cram through the parallel bridge, often resulting in accidents.
The NHAI is awaiting a team of experts from the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, to conduct a “full-scale probe” on how much area of the tarred surface of the bridge was damaged a few months ago and finally gave way in the rains, making commuting through it an unsafe and back-breaking experience.
On why experts from institutions within the State were not invited, the NHAI’s Kochi project director C. T. Abraham said it would have given rise to allegations that the probe team was being influenced.
Sources in the Cochin University of Science and Technology (Cusat) said they did not have a full-fledged team of experts that could handle the probe.
The bridge was resurfaced by CVCC-RDS, a joint venture firm, over two years ago. A senior official of CVCC refused to comment on the issue.
Damaged in rains
Civil engineering experts said it was shocking that a good share of the tarred surface of the bridge was washed away in the rains, since such damage was reported only with roads that were not properly resurfaced.
Traffic is yet to be restored through the new bridge built parallel to the second Goshree bridge because of the alarming level at which its gap slab is sinking. The bridge is awaiting structural correction. It was built by Soma Constructions and was opened to traffic by the NHAI in May 2012.
To a question on how the problem could be rectified, an NHAI official said the number of spans would have to be increased by extending its via duct. This is a complex and expensive procedure, and was suggested by experts from the NIT, Kozhikode.
Similarly, the Moolampilly-Kothad bridge on the Vallarpadam-Kalamassery Container Road that was also built by Soma Constructions was declared out of bounds for vehicles within a year of it being opened to traffic. This was after a huge chunk of concrete fell off the bridge’s surface, leaving a gaping hole in the bridge.
The NHAI is yet to rectify problems with the expansion joint pieces over the Vyttila bridge, a decade after the bridge began giving trouble.
Motorists have to endure a strenuous ride since a few expansion joints have suffered severe damage. Potholes have begun developing over the bridge on the eastern side as well, within two years of it being resurfaced.