Two out of three segments of Mumbai’s Eastern Freeway, comprising the country’s second longest elevated road and the first-ever urban tunnel, were inaugurated on Thursday by Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.

The 17-km freeway, which will connect south Mumbai to eastern suburbs, is expected to ease traffic jams in the city by cutting a 45-minute journey to 20 minutes. Motorists need not pay toll for the road. However, two-wheelers, three-wheelers and heavy vehicles will not be allowed on the freeway.

The first segment is the elevated road that will start from P. D’mello Road in south Mumbai and run up to Anik-Panjarpol linking road. The 9.29-km elevated road will be 17.2 meters in width and is the second longest after the one in Hyderabad.

Centre’s cooperation

“Land acquisition to build this part of the freeway was a tough task as most of the land belonged to Central government undertakings such as the Bombay Port Trust (BPT) and Customs. But the cooperation from the central government made our work easy,” said U.P.S. Madan, Commissioner of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). The MMRDA has constructed the freeway, the total cost of which is expected to be around Rs. 1,260 crore, partly funded by Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

“For any world class city, it is essential to have its infrastructure of the highest grade. We are focussed on improving the infrastructure of Mumbai, to make it a truly world class city,” said Mr. Chavan.

The 5-km long second part of the freeway is known as Anik-Panjarpol linking road. It begins at Bhakti Park and ends near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj statue in Chembur. It will feature the 500-metre-long tunnel.

The 2.5-km-long third part of the freeway will start from Chembur and end at the Ghatkopar Mankhurd link road. It is expected to be functional from December.

Around 1100 labourers have been working every day for the last four years for the project along with 13 engineers from the MMRDA and 82 contractors. Cement, numbering 30.25 lakh bags, 43,100 tonnes of iron rods and 3150 tonnes of high pressure iron were used in the construction of the freeway.

“The project had many challenges and one of them was the rehabilitation of around 5500 houses, out of which 300 were commercial settlements,” said Mr. Madan. The project had to relocate around 30 religious locations of different religions.

“We had to increase the height of high voltage electric wires while building the elevated road and had to relocate the underground amenities.”