Mumbai: To tackle the traffic chaos in the Andheri region that got worsened since the closure of Gokhale Bridge, the civic authorities in Mumbai were exploring possibilities of reopening one lane of the bridge for light vehicles. Experts of a premier engineering institute in the city, the Veermata Jijabai Technology Institute (VJTI), have now recommended reopening part of the bridge. They also put forward some measures to temporarily strengthen the structure to make it avail for bikes and auto rickshaws. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has now reportedly approached Bombay IIT for final approval to reopen the bridge, which was declared “unsafe”. Gokhale Bridge links SV Road in Andheri (West) to Western Express Highway (WEH) in the east.
The BMC authorities also asked experts to conduct a structural analysis of the bridge. The decision on allowing pedestrians, autorickshaws and two-wheelers after giving additional support to the structure will be taken soon after getting approval from the IIT.
The Gokhale bridge, on one of the busiest roads in the suburb, was closed for two years from November 7 after a recent structural audit declared it dilapidated and beyond repair. Since then, the entire area has been witnessing severe traffic snarls. All the alternate routes identified for east-west connectivity in Andheri continued to report heavy traffic jams. This prompted the authorities to consider opening a portion of the bridge.
According to an activist who recently held a meeting with the BMC officials regarding the matter, it will take at least a week for the final decision to open the bridge to come.
As per the current schedule, the demolition of the bridge will start in January next year. A new bridge will be constructed in the same spot within two years.
Meanwhile, the city residents questioned the delay in pulling down the old structure. They have been demanding the authorities to expedite the work. An online petition was also started by the public urging authorities to complete the construction as soon as possible.
The BMC’s bridges department is aiming to make two lanes of the reconstructed bridge operational for traffic before the end of May 2023 and the other two lanes by September 2023.