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Corridor minus craters
- January date to dig up and relay Buddha’s showpiece speedway in Rajarhat

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s path to progress through Rajarhat is finally poised to be transformed from a road to avoid to a speedway to cruise along.

After several rounds of failed patchwork, New Town Road, the cratered and cracked corridor between Salt Lake and the airport via New Town, will be dug up and relaid from January to increase its load-bearing capacity. It will take nine to 11 months for New Town Road to wear a brand new look.

The decision by the transport and housing departments comes close on the heels of the death of a Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTS) employee in a motorcycle accident last month, allegedly caused by the condition of the showpiece speedway. The pillion rider is still in hospital.

A CTS official told Metro on the opening day of Infocom 2006: “We can’t imagine taking that route to our Sector V office after picking up our clients from the airport.”

Neither could the state government imagine President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam taking that route into town late on Tuesday from the airport, and so it was good ol’ VIP Road for the VIP.

That should change by next winter. The responsibility of relaying the 10.5-km road has been entrusted to the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC), said transport department officials.

“There are craters on the road,” admitted Subodh Bhattacharya, director-general (engineering) of Hidco, which funded the road. “The contractor, Bridge and Roof Company, has been asked to do up some portions and work is on.”

The six-lane stretch was completed in July 2004 at a cost of Rs 70 crore, under the supervision of the housing department. In less than a year, cracks and craters sprang up at several points, slowing traffic down to a crawl and defeating the purpose of the new road. Consolidation of the soil, crucial to a road built largely on marshy land, had been ignored in the haste, pointed out experts. So, patchwork was not the answer.

Now, the first phase of the road overhaul is scheduled to start in January and be completed by monsoon 2007, said HRBC officials. The work will resume after the rains.

Engineers will first carry out soil tests to determine load-bearing capacity and work out the required surface thickness of the road. The sub-soil layer will be done up next, followed by the embankments and the sub-grade. A thick asphalt layer will complete the project. The specifications of the Indian Roads Congress will be adhered to.

“Drainage of water on the road is a problem. There are also defects in the design of the medians. We will, therefore, develop an integrated drainage system for the road,” stated a senior HRBC officer.

Hidco had recently asked HRBC to probe why the condition of the road was deteriorating so fast. In his report, HRBC vice-chairman Sadhan Banerjee observed that the material used was of poor quality and also the technical specifications had not been adhered to.

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