However, officials maintain there will be an unavoidable delay of a few more months
Though the Palanganatham Bridge, which connects Madakulam to TVS Nagar and Jaihindpuram, is widely expected to be opened by September-end following the recent inspection by State Minister for Highways and Minor Ports Edappadi K. Palanisamy, officials anticipate a delay.
"While most of the construction is over, we still have pending work involving the laying of the underground sewer pipelines and electrical lines," said an official of the State Highways Department.
The project, which is estimated at Rs.33 crore, has been under construction for the last three years. "While the construction has been proceeding at a brisk pace, we don’t expect it to end any time soon. We haven’t got any information from the authorities either," said the owner of a petty shop located close to the bridge.
A highways official attributed the delay in completion of the project to the land acquisition process.
The road on one side of the bridge is stacked with construction materials making it inaccessible to vehicles.
Vehicles coming from both sides are forced to operate on the narrow stretch outside the GRT Regency Hotel.
"To widen the road, we have started handing out notices to shops and houses on that side," an official said. However, the residents of the area say they have not been informed in advance about the road widening.
"There needs to be a clear discussion between the authorities and the residents before public construction projects begin," said C.J. Rajan who heads the Samam People’s Movement.
"While infrastructural projects are constructed for the welfare of the people, the absence of an initial interaction will only lead to delay in the projects, " he said.
Another bridge under construction — the Thiruparankundram Bridge over the railway line — is expected to be ready for public use in the coming months.
Once ready, the Thiruparankundram Bridge, which will cater to light vehicles, is expected to provide relief to commuters from the daily traffic jams that occur when they have to wait at the railway level crossing.
"There are a number of students commuting to colleges as well as office goers who are forced to wait at the level crossing during peak hours. As the number of vehicles increases, there is a lot of confusion as commuters are in a rush to get to the other side," said a road user.
The Madurai Consumer Protection Centre wrote to the State Highways Department earlier this year enquiring about the status of the project.
"In response to our query, the department responded a few days ago saying that the bridge would be ready by September-end," said G Muniasamy, Secretary, Madurai Consumer Protection Centre.