The development of Tiruchi-Karur section of National Highway 67 has entered a crucial stage with just a little over 50 per cent of the works having been completed.

Considering the unique and challenging natural features, not to speak of man-made problems, the progress of the work is seen as a major advancement in completing the 80-km project.

The National Highways Authority of India conceived the project and planned it to be developed into a four-lane and two-lane paved shoulder road taking into account the natural boundaries that marginalise the major section of the stretch.

On one side of the existing road, the Cauvery runs almost to two-thirds of length while the Tiruchi-Karur railway track abuts the stretch on the other side.

Not to be left behind the South Bank Canal runs parallel to the road from near Perugamani in Tiruchi district to Chinthalavadi in Karur district.

Even at the conceptual stage the project was accepted as challenging and demanding to execute. In line with the expectation, the work had to wither a lot of difficulties and from design to execution the project demanded sharp technical attention.

The concessionare, Reliance Infra, started work in January 2008 at an estimated cost of Rs. 516 crore.

Though the scheduled completion date is July end, the challenges have forced a time over-run of nearly eight more months.

Besides land acquisition, major hurdles faced in executing the project include construction of a grade separator with an adjoining road over-bridge that elongates well into the river to come back and land in main road alignment.

This structure would perhaps be the first of its kind in any project in Tamil Nadu. Work on that is about to begin.

The project features four-laning for a length of 23 km and two-lane paved shoulders for a distance of 57 km. Service roads are to be laid for more than 11 km.

Three by pass stretches _ to skirt Tiruchi, Kulithalai and Karur towns _ would be developed to facilitate racy motoring.

Around 10 under passes, 11 minor bridges and five major bridges along with three road over bridges give an idea of the challenges involved.