The Annai Indira Gandhi Bridge (Pamban road bridge), that connects the mainland to the island town of Rameswaram, will get a facelift at a cost of Rs. 18.57 crore as it steps into the silver jubilee year.
Renovation work on the 2.345-km-long bridge, inaugurated by the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on October 2, 1988, was heralded by special puja and prayers during Wednesday and Thursday.
Chennai-based Trinity and Co. has partnered with Ramanathapuram-based M.R. Hitech Engineering for the renovation work.
The National Highways authorities issued the work order on March 18.
On Wednesday, the first batch of half a dozen workers began the grouting work to seal cracks in the splash zones of the piers to make them water-proof.
More workers are expected to join them in the coming weeks.
‘Though the agreement has been signed to execute the works in one year, they will be completed ahead of the schedule,” S. Ovu Reddy, Divisional Engineer, National Highways, told reporters at the site after inspecting the work on Thursday.
The bridge received anti-corrosive coats of paint in 1992 and 2002, though it should have been given once in five years as it was located in the world’s second highest corrosion prone area, he said. “Besides a fresh coat of anti-corrosive paint, the bridge, for the first time, will be completely renovated,” he said.
The bridge, with its arch-shaped design to allow ships to pass beneath it, is supported by 79 piers, 64 of which were built in the sea and the entire structure would be given anti-corrosive paint coat, he said.
As part of the renovation work, all the 592 old bearings would be replaced with new ones and expansion and finger joints fixed, he said.
The electric cables and the 174 lamp poles on both sides of the bridge would also be replaced with new cables, poles and LED lights, he added.
Sources said the splash zone of the piers, with a height of 3.36 metres, would be painted with coal tar epoxy, and the non-splash zone with a height of 5.1 metres with epoxy primer.
The contractors have moved a gantry and would bring one more in the coming days to allow the work to go ahead full swing, the sources added.
The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had sanctioned the renovation project for Rs. 18.57 crore two months ago, but the work order was delayed owing to administrative reasons.