Consultant storms out of project over how to repair faulty expansion joints on Sirsi flyover

The work of replacing the faulty expansion joints on the arterial Sirsi Circle flyover appears to be jinxed. With the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the project consultant (Civil Aid Techno Pvt. Ltd.) disagreeing on the type of joints to be used, the latter has now threatened to pull out of the project altogether.

Work on replacing the expansion joints was taken up on March 30 and the flyover partially closed. And that was that. Since then, there has been no progress and the contractor has only excavated the asphalt that had been crudely dumped over the faulty expansion joints. It was at this point that the disagreement arose, forcing the work to come to a standstill.

Type of joint

Senior officials said while the BBMP wants to incorporate finger joints (that look like interlocked fingers), the project consultant wants the modular type. The BBMP has decided to replace the expansion joints with the finger-type, much to the consultants' chagrin.

“The consultant has now decided to pull out. We have been told that a letter will be sent to us shortly for formality's sake. The BBMP decided on the finger joints at a recent technical advisory meeting chaired by Commissioner M.K. Shankarlinge Gowda,” an official said.

The official added the BBMP was now planning to engage the services of experts from CiSTUP (Centre for Infrastructure, Sustainable Transport and Urban Planning) of the Indian Institute of Science as consultants.

Asked why this issue was not settled before the work was taken up, the official blamed Civil Aid Techno Pvt. Ltd. To install the modular type joints, the contractor would have to cut around 350 mm of the flyover, which may adversely affect the 14-year-old structure. Finger joints entail no cutting, the official said. “We have dug out the asphalt humps on the flyover. The finger joints may be incorporated with just the existing gap of 150 mm.”

‘Drawings not given'

The official explained that the problem over choosing the type of joints arose as the BBMP did not have any drawings or plans of the 2.65 km flyover, which was opened to traffic in 1998. The flyover was constructed by Larsen and Toubro at a cost of Rs. 97 crore. “There was some disagreement with regard to payment and the company did not give the BBMP any drawings,” the official claimed.

Seven tenders so far

Incidentally, the BBMP has floated seven tenders to replace the 15 expansion joints since 2005. The last, for Rs. 2.65 crore, was finalised and work order issued to the Kolkata firm, Sanfield (India). Mayor Sharadamma even took part in the ground-breaking ceremony last September and had then claimed that the work would be taken up in October. However, there has been no progress and the public continues to have a bumpy ride over the flyover.

Impact on traffic

The partial closure of the flyover has had a telling impact on the traffic. Motorists going towards Sirsi Circle from Narasimha Raja Road and K.R. Market Circle are now forced to use the down ramp to join Chamarajpet 1st Main, Royan's Circle and thence to Mysore Road.

Even though the BBMP officials now claim that the work would be completed in 90 days, the fact is that motorists have been unnecessarily inconvenienced for weeks now. It now remains to be seen if the civic authority will stick to its renewed deadline and finish the replacement of the joints in time.

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