Portion of Gemini overbridge was damaged after bus smashed through it

The State Highways Department on Saturday completed work on the portion of the Gemini flyover that was damaged when an MTC bus smashed through it on June 27.

The department took up repair works on the 10-metre-wide and 1-metre-high gap in the concrete railing on a war footing to ensure the safety of thousands of motorists who the facility every day.

India’s third flyover, after the ones at Kemps Corner and Marine Drive in Mumbai, it was constructed by East Coast Construction and Industries in 21 months at a cost of Rs. 66 lakh, and opened to traffic on July 1, 1973.

A former Highways official who had been associated with the flyover said it was the longest flyover in the country back then. “In a coastal area, for a flyover to stand for nearly 40 years is exceptional. And it is in perfect working condition even today. It is one of the top-rated flyovers in the country and was constructed keeping in mind the traffic growth over decades,” he said.

While in the 1970s, over 9,000 vehicles crossed the junction during peak hour, today the stretch between Parry’s Corner and Nandanam witnesses over 16,000 vehicles during rush hour. Anna Salai, where the flyover is located, is used by over 1.83 lakh vehicles every day.

Though utilisation of space under the city’s flyovers is a much-debated topic, the government had plans to lease out the area under the Gemini flyover to a restaurant, a shopping centre, godowns, a parking lot, and for advertising.

At a time when Chennai Corporation is mulling the possibility of extending the recently-built Usman Road flyover, the architects of Gemini flyover had made provision for its extension, if necessary, on either side.

Not much has changed since its design in the 1970s, which was said to have been approved by a committee comprising senior officials and experts. The original lighting has been changed though.

Sources in the Highways Department said all bridges and flyovers under its jurisdiction were routinely inspected with regular tests carried out to ensure safety of road users. The tests include super elevation, which ensures that the road surface is able to counter centrifugal force, and skid resistance tests.

So far, there have been no issues related to design or maintenance of Gemini flyover, the sources said.

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