Madurai

This bridge is broken

Rusted iron rods protruding out of worn out pillars of Mayor Muthu Road Over Bridge in Madurai.   | Photo Credit: R. ASHOK

New caution boards have come up on either side of Mayor Muthu Road Over Bridge (ROB) warning heavy vehicles with more than 10 tonnes of weight to avoid the structure connecting Periyar bus stand with southern parts of Madurai city.

Reason: the bridge has lost its designed stability due to lack of proper maintenance. The bridge is a vital connectivity on the all-important Tirupparankundram Road providing the shortest link for southern districts to Madurai railway junction and Meenakshi temple.

In a bid to safeguard the “weak structure”, the Highways Department has put up another caution board restricting the speed limit on the bridge to 30 kmph.

A cursory glance shows that the sub-structure of the bridge is in bad shape what with the outer plastering worn out in every pillar. The iron rods have remained exposed to open air in too many spots for very long and are rusted. Even as the plastering has peeled off in many spots for more than half-a-foot, fresh cracks on the pillars reveal the stress the substructure is undergoing.

Every hour, hundreds of heavy vehicles, including buses, light vehicles and two-wheelers use the bridge under which Madurai-Manamadurai railway track runs.

“The bridge is more than 45 years old and needs urgent attention to retore it to its normal health,” says former Chief Engineer, State Highways Department, A.K. Rajaduraivelpandian.

It is not an isolated case of Mayor Muthu Bridge alone, but many structures of its age in the State are facing the same problem, he points out. “These are vey old bridges and routine maintenance like plastering and colour washing will not serve the purpose.”

The bridges should get special attention. “Advanced scientific solutions are available and concrete mix should be injected with advanced machineries to restore their stability,” Mr. Pandian says.

He recalls that he drew the attention of the State government several years ago to the need for special maintenance of bridges. However, that did not get any positive response till date. “Spending a few crores on maintenance will increase the longevity of the bridge by at least 10 to 20 years.”

If not attended to immediately or not done in the proper manner, the bridge might need total replacement. The State Highways should create a separate wing for maintenance of bridges on the lines of railways.“There is a telling difference in the maintenance of the railway portion of the bridges and the approach roads [maintained by the State Highways],” he adds.

A senior Highways official says a proposal for major maintenance work at a cost of ₹5 crore is pending with the State government. “The work will be taken up as per the advice of IIT-Madras. Once the reinforcement is done, it will gain its old stability.”

Traffic police have been advised to divert heavy vehicles through Ellis Nagar ROB, he adds.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2020 12:14:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/this-bridge-is-broken/article32687918.ece

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