Karkala-Mala stretch of NH 169 being widened exactly as per Indian Road Congress specifications

As per specifications of Indian Road Congress, each carriageway must be 10 metres wide, median should be 3 metres wide, and each road shoulder should be 1 metre wide

Updated - January 05, 2024 02:32 pm IST

Published - January 05, 2024 02:29 pm IST - MANGALURU

Construction of a parallel bridge to the existing one across Swarna river at Kadari in Karkala taluk of Udupi district is part of the widening of Mangaluru-Solapur NH 169 between Bajagoli and Mala, on December 25, 2023.

Construction of a parallel bridge to the existing one across Swarna river at Kadari in Karkala taluk of Udupi district is part of the widening of Mangaluru-Solapur NH 169 between Bajagoli and Mala, on December 25, 2023. | Photo Credit: ANIL KUMAR SASTRY

Work on widening Mangaluru-Solapur National Highway 169 between Karkala and base of Mala ghat to four lanes is progressing fast while the work on the stretch between Mangaluru and Sanur (Karkala) is mirred in land acquisition controversies.

While the 15.2-km stretch of Karkala (Pulkeri Junction) – Mala is being widened by the National Highways division of the State Public Works Department at a cost of ₹176 crore, the 45-km stretch between Mangaluru (Bikarnakatte) and Sanur is being handled by the National Highways Authority of India.

A senior official with the NH PWD said the 15.2-km stretch was being widened exactly as per the specification of the Indian Road Congress with each carriageway having width of 10 metres, median 3 metres and road shoulder 1 metre each. The 45-km stretch from Bikarnakatte to Sanur is not as wide as the Karkala-Mala stretch, as each carriageway is less than 8 metres wide.

The Udupi-Kukke Subrahmanya State Highway 37, via Karkala, Belthangady and Dharmasthala, merges with NH 169 for 9 km between Karkala and Bajagoli. SH 37 is being widened to two lanes with paved shoulders in phases.

Several trees have been felled for widening Mangaluru-Solapur NH 169 between Bajagoli and Mala in Karkala taluk of Udupi district.

Several trees have been felled for widening Mangaluru-Solapur NH 169 between Bajagoli and Mala in Karkala taluk of Udupi district. | Photo Credit: ANIL KUMAR SASTRY

Why four-lane highway between Bajagoli and Mala?

Meanwhile, residents of Ramabettupalke, Kadari and Mala are questioning the need for a four-lane highway for a distance of about 6 km between Bajagoli and Mala, the base of the Western Ghats.

“While there is heavy traffic on the Karkala-Dharmasthala SH, there is not much traffic on NH 169 once it branches out to the left at Bajagoli bypass,” said Prasad Kumar, a resident of Kadari.

The highway becomes a double lane from Mala to South Kanara (SK) Border and single lane from SK Border to Nemmar within the Kudremukh National Park (KNP). “The Forest Department is not allowing widening of the highway inside the KNP,” he said. “From Nemmar till Tirthahalli, NH 169 is a two-lane highway with paved shoulders, except for a 5-km four-lane stretch around Sringeri town.”

PWD officials explained that the road would have to be widened eventually, and work would be undertaken when funds are made available. According to an official, “The highway stretch inside KNP too would be expanded to 10-metre width with paved shoulders, as the Forest Department has given permission for the same.”

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