Mumbai, Jan. 31: Seven feasibility studies and 45 years later, Mumbai has finally taken a leap towards the Western Freeway Sea Link Project (WFSL) that will help decongest the metro’s maddening traffic.
The Rs 3,551-crore project will connect Worli in central Mumbai to the Nariman Point business district in the far south. It will be an extension of the 6.1-km Bandra-Worli Sea Link that is being built at a cost of Rs 1,300 crore.
The WFSL will be a 13.75-km eight-lane bridge that will run through the sea. It will have at least five connectors at the north and south ends of the Worli Sea Front, Haji Ali sea front, Kemps Corner and Priyadarshini Park which will allow motorists to re-enter the city.
Once complete, the sea link will provide an alternative 19-km long access from Bandra to Nariman Point, reducing travel time by half.
The WFSL will be among the seven mega-projects currently underway to transform Mumbai. Some of the others are the 20-km Sewree-Nhava Sheva Trans Harbour Link on the eastern waterfront; the Eastern Freeway which will provide the fifth traffic corridor for north to south movement; the Santa Cruz-Chembur Link Road and the Jogeshwari-Versova Link Road.
The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation yesterday signed a pact with a global consortium of consultants to prepare the techno-economic feasibility and pre-tender services for the project.
The consortium, led by Ove Arup & Partners International Ltd (ARUP), includes Consulting Engineering Services (CES) Ernst and Young and India Law Services.
ARUP has been involved in building many global sea-link projects, including Oresund Bridge that connects Denmark to Sweden; the world’s fifth largest Indeon Bridge in Korea; Shenzhen Western Corridor in Hong Kong; and CTRL Melway Bridge in the UK.
“The WFSL is likely to commence construction in December 2006 and is expected to be ready by 2011 on build-operate-transfer basis,” road development corporation chairman Anil Deshmukh said.
“The ministry of environment and forests has already granted clearances for the WSFL alignment.”
For Mumbai’s harried commuters who are yet to forget last year’s July 26 deluge and the nightmare that followed, the project will provide much relief. CES chairman S.S. Chakraborty said: “Our studies show that 58 per cent of employment is located in south Mumbai, while more than 50 per cent of the city’s population resides in the suburbs.
“The Mahim causeway, which is the main connector to Mumbai and its western suburbs, has the highest passenger car movement per hour (9,520 cars) among the city’s busiest traffic intersections.”
Among the salient features of the WFSL is a lane dedicated exclusively to BEST bus movement. No trucks and freight vehicles will be allowed.
The freeway will have eight lanes from Worli to Haji Ali, six lanes from Haji Ali to Kemp’s Corner in south Mumbai and four lanes from Kemps Corner to Nariman Point. The freeway would have toll nakas at each intersection.