Never-ending highway work causing miseries

Drivers find it difficult to drive on the National Highway 75 between Hassan and Maranahalli, as the existing highway is not in a motorable condition near Sakleshpur.  

The woes of road users travelling on a 48-km stretch of National Highway 75 appear to be neverending as the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has failed to maintain the existing carriageway in motorable condition while executing the four-lane work between Hassan and Maranahalli, beyond Sakleshpur, in Hassan district.

Commenced four years ago, four-laning of the stretch between Hassan and Maranahalli (before Shiradi Ghat) at an initial estimated cost of ₹574 crore under engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode, has not even reached 50% of the target. With the initial contractor declaring insolvency, NHAI asked the sub-contractor to continue the work to speed up the process. Yet, the work has not gained momentum.

While laying two-lane concrete is being done patch by patch to build one side of the carriageway, bitumen cover on the existing carriageway left for vehicular movement has almost worn out leaving potholes and craters for negotiation all along the 48-km stretch. The crucial highway connecting New Mangalore Port with the hinterland thus has been posing a challenge to every kind of driver, from private cars to buses, from normal trucks to multi-axle trucks as well as LPG-transporting bullet tankers.

The travel time has got extended by at least one hour for passenger vehicles, say drivers of private cars as well as buses while it is more than two hours for goods vehicles, particularly multi-axle trucks. A KSRTC driver, Sudhakar, said that apart from enduring the treacherous road stretch, vehicle components, including shock absorbers and tyres, get severely damaged thereby enhancing the maintenance cost by several times.

While buses and goods vehicles have no other way but to use the National Highway 75, many driving private vehicles take a detour via Charmadi Ghat to avoid the Hassan-Maranahalli stretch.

Lolaksha Kotian, who regularly drives between Bengaluru and Mangaluru, said that he takes the Belur-Mudigere-Charmadi Ghat stretch after driving on the four-lane between Nelamangala and Hassan. Though he ends up spending about an hour or so extra, he need not worry about any operational damage to his vehicle, Mr. Kotian said.

Now, work is going on in bits and pieces only at a few places, even as it appeared that the execution has not gathered any pace even after four years of launch.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 4:05:58 PM |

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