A tram runs on cemented tracks. Civic engineers have woken up to the fact that the upkeep of such stretches is more expensive than bituminous roads. A Telegraph picture
The civic engineers who had permitted the concretisation of tram tracks are now predicting that the cemented portions of the roads will turn into drains. The reason: repairs on the bituminous surface will raise it above the level of the tram tracks.
This will make maintenance of concretised roads “10 times more expensive than upkeep of bituminous roads”, according to the engineers.
That concretisation of tram tracks will make underground sewers and water supply lines difficult to access has also come to light after over Rs 130 crore has been spent on the project since 2004 and the state government has decided to pump in another Rs 140 crore.
“If fresh coats of bitumen are added to the existing non-concrete surface, it will become higher than the tram tracks. In a few years, the tracks will become like drains,” said the civic deputy chief engineer, Soumitra Bhattacharya.
If the concretised roads are not maintained properly, they will become unsafe for pedestrians and vehicles because of their uneven surface, added the engineer.
“For proper maintenance, the CMC will need to buy expensive milling machines, which can shave off bituminous layers and recycle them. The civic body only has one milling machine.”
The uneven concrete and bituminous surfaces can be spotted on Gariahat Road and near Bijon Setu, stated Bhattacharya.
“Other roads, like Syed Amir Ali Avenue, MG Road, BB Ganguly Street, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road, Elliot Road, AJC Bose Road and APC Roy Road will face the same problem in the near future,” said the civic chief engineer (civil), P.K. Dhua.
An engineer of the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners pointed out that tram tracks are concretised in the UK and Australia, too. But there, the entire road surface is of concrete, said Indranath Chakraborty, a former deputy chief engineer of the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority.
“The present condition of Strand Road is the result of misalignment between the concrete and bituminous surfaces,” added Chakraborty.