One is the hallowed highway of the chief minister of West Bengal; the other is a prime stretch in the dream project of the former Prime Minister of India. One is a roller-coaster ride in slow motion; the other is a smooth-as-silk drive in fast-forward mode.
On Friday morning, Metro took a joy ride 15 km down Bombay Road, NH-6, and then a bone-jarring 15 km drive down New Town Road, Rajarhat. A report card.
Zip, zap, zoom' Bombay Road, part of Atal Bihari Vajpayee's golden quadrilateral ' the grand project to link the length and the breadth of the country ' is used by vehicles going west off Kona Expressway. The speedometer only moved anti-clockwise when there was a slower moving vehicle in front.
The road that was built 28 months ago was without blemish ' not a pothole to avoid, not a cratered cause to slam the brakes for.
UNVEILED: March 2004
OWNED BY: National Highway Authority of India
CONTRACTOR: RBM-Pati (JV with a Malaysian company)
MATERIAL USED: Soil, sand, stone chips, bitumen (3 layers)
HEIGHT FROM SOIL TO SURFACE: 2 m-2.5 m
CONSTRUCTION COST: Rs 110 crore (approx) for the stretch
NUMBER OF REPAIRS: None
OFFICIAL LINE: 'NH-6 is part of a prestige project. All care has been taken to meet quality standards,' said a transport department official.
New Town Road
Rattle, rattle, bump and brake' Rajarhat Road, part of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's grand plan to make Calcutta the golden gateway to the east, is used by vehicles headed for or from the airport.
The stretch to the airport is anything but a dream drive, but the stretch from the airport is nothing short of a nightmare. On an average, the car had to slow down once every minute on Buddhababu's fast track. If the cracks running down the middle of the prestige road don't get you, the potholes here, there and everywhere surely will.
The road that was built 24 months ago is already a road to avoid ' if you are in a hurry to reach the city or if you care for your car.
UNVEILED: July 2004
OWNED BY: Hidco
CONTRACTOR: Bridge and Roof Co. Ltd (CPSU)
MATERIAL USED: Soil-Brickbat-Bitumen (2 layers)
HEIGHT FROM SOIL TO SURFACE: 1.5 m
CONSTRUCTION COST: Rs 70 crore (approx) for the stretch
FIRST REPAIR IN: 2005
REPAIR COST: Rs 2 crore (approx)
OFFICIAL LINE: 'As it is a new road, no repair work should have been required for the first five years. We have summoned the contractor to repair the road,' says Hidco managing director R. K. Tripathy.
EXPERT VOICE: 'Consolidation of the soil is a crucial element, which was ignored on the Rajarhat road, built largely on marshy land. It was constructed in haste, without factoring in differential settlement of soil,' says Unmesh Kirtikar of Centre for Built Environment (CBE).