Citizen activism, supported by a series of stories by DNA on the delayed Santa Cruz-Chembur Link Road (SCLR), finally yielded results with the crucial junction bridge over the busy LBS Marg is now ready for traffic. Authorities may open it by next week and the entire project is likely to be complete by 2013.
DNA, along with local residents, had launched a campaign in September 2011 to give a push to incomplete bridges. While stranded work on the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR) was opened after similar DNA - supported citizen campaigns, crucial work on a stretch of the SCLR is now complete as well.
“The MMRDA has informed me in a letter that the Kurla Junction flyover is ready and will be inaugurated for motorists within a week’s time it,” said Anil Galgali of Athak Seva Sangh, a Right to Information activist who had been pursuing Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) authorities to complete the long-pending flyover.
“The flyover was half complete for seven years and was occupying a lot of road space,” Galgali said. “In fact, the garages at Kapadia Nagar had started using the landing of the flyover as a dump yard.”
Another activist, Jitendra Gupta, said it was a major success and that traffic jams would now be relieved. He had organised a citizens’ walk along the stretch and had identified 13 areas with no encroachments where engineering work could have begun long back.
Initially termed an engineering marvel by National Geographic, the SCLR project has now shamed even the World Bank. Started in 2003, it was often stuck in a maze of encroachments and red-tape. However, an official said that actual work on the project began in 2007 as the World Bank had suspended its loan for some time.
The delay in completing the city’s east-west bridges has already cost the state exchequer a bomb, with the government appointing a committee led by NV Merani to investigate the delay. A recent RTI application had revealed that the cost of the SCLR project had exceeded the original estimated cost by Rs139.8 crore.
Sources said that the road leading to Kurla will now need to be widened once the bridge is opened to public as the narrow road would lead to a bottleneck situation while reaching the station.
Local engineers at the site said that after the demolition of the British era Halav Pul, they had widened the stretch to more than double its width. A new bridge connecting the old Kurla lane to the LBS Road and Sheetal lake will also be built.