Calcutta's longest and costliest high road, slated to fly over the busiest stretch of the city, is now taking wing.
The Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government is planning an 11-km pathway, linking the Howrah bridge approach to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose airport and including a 6.5-km flyover.
Once operational, the flyover will drastically cut down commuting time between the airport and Howrah station, a 15-km stretch.
In the first phase, the flyover will originate from where the Brabourne Road one terminates and end on Vivekananda Road at Girish Park, with an arm touching down on Strand Bank Road.
In the next phase, the flyover will take off from Girish Park and terminate just short of Dum Dum airport, flying over Vivekananda Road, Maniktala Main Road, CIT Road and VIP Road, some of the busiest and most congested stretches of the city.
Riding a Rs 600-crore investment, the project will be implemented on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis.
The project details were finalised at a meeting chaired by transport minister Subhas Chakraborty at Writers' Buildings on Friday.
State government officials, along with Dum Dum MP Amitava Nandy and East Calcutta MP Sudhanshu Sil, discussed the proposal during an hour-long meeting. Hemant Kanoria, vice-chairman of the SREI group, the BOT partner for the first phase, was also present.
'Work on the first phase, estimated at Rs 70 crore, will start before the Pujas. We're aiming at a time-frame of 18 months for this phase,' said Sil. The entire structure, he added, would be made of steel frames, to be pre-fabricated and then erected at the site for early completion of the project.
'We told the transport minister that we're interested in taking up the stretch between the Brabourne Road flyover and Girish Park, which would form the first phase. The details would be discussed in our next meeting on August 5,' said Kanoria.
In the second phase, the high road will have ramps descending at the Kankurgachhi, Maniktala, Ultadanga and Kestopur junctions, enabling vehicles from these areas to hit the flyover and ease congestion.
'After the project is implemented, the entire east Calcutta and north Calcutta will have easy access to Howrah bridge. Cars from Salt Lake and Kankurgachhi, which now use Mahatma Gandhi Road, Strand Road and Posta to reach Howrah station, will be able to bypass these congested areas altogether,' said traffic and transportation executive engineer Ajoy Das.
Earlier this week, transport minister Chakraborty had voiced unhappiness in the Assembly over the fact that north Calcutta was neglected in comparison to the south, which had bagged all major development projects in recent times.
Now, the proposed long high road should, to an extent, correct the imbalance.