The overbridge near SN Junction in Tripunithura provides the much-needed alternative route to commuters who want to bypass the town’s narrow and congested roads.
While protests against the Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala (RBDCK) collecting toll have mellowed down in recent years, there is still much heartburn about potholes over the bridge and gaps in the expansion joints offering a bumpy ride.
The bridge and roads on either side are busy through day and night because of the continuous flow of vehicles, mainly tippers and tanker lorries. The widening of the bridge, the Pettah-Irumpanam Road, SN Junction and Irumpanam Junction are already long overdue. “With Kochi metro’s terminal station slated to be established at land owned by Steel Authority of India Limited near the bridge, the corridor will invariably have to be widened. The PWD has plans to widen the stretch by four metres on either side, which will make it a four-lane road,” said the Chairman of the Tripunithura Municipality R. Venugopal. To a question why the municipality did not initiate the widening process of the narrow bridge at Pettah and the construction of a footpath, he said that Rs 1 crore from Defence Minister A.K. Antony’s MP fund had been earmarked for constructing a footpath over six years ago. The work was postponed following a proposal by the PWD’s National Highway wing to widen the road and the extremely-narrow bell mouths of junctions en route. The Statue Junction too has to be widened, Mr Venugopal said.
Though the municipality is resting its hopes on the NH wing widening the bridge’s approach roads, the PWD is in no hurry. “The speedy completion of Tripunithura bypass mooted decades ago will considerably decongest Tripunithura town. Widening of the Pettah-Irumpanam stretch could follow,” an official in the department said. As for widening the Irumpanam junction, this would be done when the RBDCK widens the Airport-Seaport road into a four-lane one. The work has begun to widen the HMT Junction-Bharat Mata College stretch. On whether toll will be hiked when four-laning and the road’s airport extension work are over, RBDCK sources said that this will not be done. But the toll period is likely to be increased.
They said that the SN Junction bridge could be widened into four-lane based on the situation that emerges when the metro is extended to Tripunithura. This would further extend the toll period by a few years since the RBDCK gets very little financial support from the State government.