Mumbai-Pune Expressway traffic to speed up as old bridge razed

Mumbai, April 6 (IANS) The traffic on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway is expected to speed up as the demolition of a 189-year old unused bridge was taken up from Sunday, officials said.

The bridge, built by a British engineer Capt. Hughes in 1830 — and later credited for laying the foundations of the Mumbai-Pune rail links — was razed using controlled blasting on Sunday evening.
The work on clearing the debris in about 1,200 truckloads and demolishing the remaining portions of the bridge will continue over the next 10 days, a Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation official said.
The bridge – popularly known as ‘Amrutanjan Bridge’ courtesy a giant hoarding for an outdoor advertisement of the pain relief balm – had become a major traffic hindrance and cause for many accidents on the country’s first and busy expressway.
Though the bridge was unused for several decades, a structural audit a few years ago cautioned that its condition was not sound and it could collapse, posing a risk to the expressway traffic zooming below it.
Though the expressway is six-laned, around the bridge, it became a four-laned ‘S’-shaped bottleneck, slowing the traffic, creating snarls and upping hazards of accidents especially during morning-evening peak hours and weekends.
The massive wide pillars of the bridge between Khandala-Lonavala in the Raigad district stretch of the 100-kms expressway occupied the space for about two lanes.
Over the next few weeks, the situation is expected to be rectified with the area being smoothened, widened and spruced up to ensure uninterrupted flow of the traffic.
An official said that as per rough estimates, at least 10-15 minutes are likely to be saved on the journey in both directions, save fuel, reduce pollution and accidents after this operation.
The Raigad Collector had given permission for the bridge demolition to be carried out from April 4 and the MSRDC swung into action in view of the negligible traffic during the ongoing 21-lockdown period.