A portion of the road in Koinad caved in on Monday, bringing traffic to a halt

Traffic movement from Mangalore to Mysore via Madikeri came to a halt on Monday with cracks on a 50-m-long stretch on Mysore-Mani State highway at Koinad between Madikeri in Kodagu district and Sullia in Dakshina Kannada.

Movement of buses and heavy vehicles had been banned on this route in Kodagu district for the last seven days following the development of deep cracks on the stretch. Cars and two-wheelers had been allowed on one portion of the road. It was on Sunday that buses were allowed on a trial basis.

Even after three years of taking up the project, Karnataka Road Development Corporation Ltd. (KRDCL) has been unable to complete upgradation of the 71.9-km stretch of State Highway (SH) 88 — between Mani in Dakshina Kannada district and Sampaje in Kodagu district — which is the trunk route between Mysore and Mangalore.

The 41-km stretch between Mani and Puttur, which the corporation claims to have upgraded, is riddled with craters and potholes, a nightmare for drivers. Pointing at the KRDCL signboard: ‘Work is on, go slow’, near Mani, taxi driver L. Joseph said the work appeared to be never-ending. “We need to go slow for our sakes,” he said.

Many deadlines

On the Mysore-Bantwal SH, work on upgrading 71 km between Mani and Sampaje was awarded to Hyderabad-based KMC Constructions in April 2010, with a two-year deadline at a cost of Rs. 180 crore. Several deadlines have passed and the contractor has completed just about half the target, with questionable standards of construction. The SH has already been upgraded between Mysore-Kushalanagar and Kushalanagar-Madikeri-Sampaje in two phases.

Unlike other PWD roads, which were not provided with adequate funds for construction, the government provided about Rs. 2 crore a km for reconstruction of this road. The KRDCL, which is credited with construction of some of the best roads such as the Bangalore-Mysore State Highway, unfortunately appears to have failed to execute the mandate here. A stretch of this highway that was reconstructed about five years ago has caved in near Koinad, between Sampaje and Madikeri.

The travel time has also extended because of the pathetic condition of the road between Mani and Sampaje. While it should take about two hours to cover the 120-km distance from Mangalore to Sampaje, it takes at least five hours with driving at first and second gear between Sullia and Sampaje, said Shriram Pakala, who is a regular commuter on this stretch.

The condition of National Highway 17, more so between the busy Pumpwell Circle (in Mangalore) and Talapady, is no better. This stretch is part of the 90-km-long highway being widened between Kundapur and Talapady at a cost of Rs. 671 crore. The work started in September 2010 and has been allotted to Navayuga Udupi Tollway Pvt. Ltd.

The problem starts when motorists cross the Pumpwell Circle. The road particularly turns nightmarish after Kotekar. After Talapady check-post, the National Highway becomes smooth. This is where motorists enter Kunjathur in Kerala from where the National Highway turns into a smooth two-lane road.

More In: Karnataka | National