The National Highways Authority of India is set to complete work soon on the Rs.20-crore bridge coming up on National Highway-5 at Karanodai across the Kosasthalaiyar River.
NHAI sources said the L&T, which is contractor for the project, would shortly begin work on the approach road to the bridge and on the connecting stretch to one side of the bridge. Work on the bridge, coming up next to the existing facility, began in mid-2009.
Vehicles bound for Tada, Nellore and Vijayawada take NH-5, popularly known as Kolkata Highway, which is also being widened from four to six lanes.
Maragatham, who sells mangoes and cucumbers near the bridge, said that every time a long trailer truck ambles along the bridge, traffic piles up on either side. Motorists said such pile-ups were common and often extended to two km.
“Policemen come only when there is a traffic jam and even with their intervention, it takes about two hours for it to be cleared. If a vehicle breaks down on the bridge, other vehicles are unable to overtake it resulting in a pile up,” a resident of Puzhal said.
M. Jayapalan, vice-president, Red Hills Paddy and Rice Wholesale Merchants' Association, said that the toll plaza also slowed down traffic. “There is not much transparency in fixing toll rates. They keep increasing the levy, often without consulting us. Our trucks carrying rice go up to Vijayawada from Red Hills and we have to pay a toll of Rs.1,800, which gets added to the cost of the rice.” He expressed the hope that work on the bridge would be expedited.
The existing two-lane bridge was constructed after the condition of the more than a century-old Karanodai bridge deteriorated several years ago when its three spans were washed away by floods. The old facility completely collapsed in December 2007.