Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant drove his car on a new bridge constructed on the Zuari river to have a first-hand experience before the inauguration of the structure.
Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari will inaugurate the first phase of the bridge on Thursday evening (December 29.)
The cable-stayed structure, termed by the government to be the country's widest bridge once fully completed, is located on the Zuari river at Cortalim village on Margao-Panaji National Highway, about 15KM from the State capital. The bridge is considered as an important link between North and South Goa.
An old bridge on the river, which was constructed in 1980s, has not been able to withstand the increasing traffic load on the National Highway.
On Wednesday night, Mr. Sawant along with Atul Joshi, vice-president of Dilip Buildcon Limited which is constructing the new structure, drove for nearly 4KM, from a connecting flyover to the new bridge.
“I thought of having a feel of the bridge from a driver's perspective. I drove along with the contractor to acknowledge the hard work his company has put in to construct this structure,” Mr. Sawant told PTI at the site after the drive. The Chief Minister said he was eager to drive on the new bridge.
“It was a different experience for me. The entire feel was different,” he said, adding he has been completely away from driving a vehicle since the time he became the CM. The State had earlier planned the bridge inauguration on December 26, but it was postponed to December 29.
“Asked about the delay in the inauguration of the new structure in view of the traffic congestion on the old bridge,” Mr. Sawant said, “Traffic jam on the old bridge is not a new thing. I regret that. But at the same time, we wanted to have a grand function to inaugurate such a mega-project.” Mr. Sawant said the State government was waiting for Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s availability for the inauguration function as he has been the force behind the bridge and such projects across the country.
The new bridge is part of a ₹2,530 crore project covering a distance of 13.2KM between Bambolim (North Goa) and Verna (South Goa) villages. Dilip Buildcon Limited has said the entire eight-lane project will be completed by April 2023.