|Rajendra bridge (top) and Koilwar bridge. Telegraph pictures
Patna, Nov. 30: National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has set the ball rolling for the construction of two new four-lane bridges across the Ganga and the Sone respectively.
Besides, NHAI has decided to add two more lanes to the existing two-lane bridge across the Ganga between Buxar and Balia in Uttar Pradesh.
These bridges would be constructed as part of the ongoing National Highway Development Project (NHDP). NHAI has been entrusted with the task of executing the project in Bihar.
The first such four-lane bridge would be constructed near Mokama, about 100km east of Patna, across the Ganga. It would run parallel to the existing rail-cum-road Rajendra bridge, which was open for public use way back in 1954.
The news would be music to commuters as the existing bridge keeps on developing snags and sometimes it is closed for vehicular movement when maintenance work is done. This forces vehicles to take a longer route to reach the respective destinations. Moreover, the road of the existing bridge is not wide enough to cope with the ever-increasing vehicular pressure on this section.
The new four-lane bridge would be part of the four-laning project of the 107-km stretch of National Highway 31 between Bakhtiyarpur and Khagaria.
“The selection of agency for carrying out the construction work on this stretch has been completed. Two firms from Hyderabad will work jointly for the project, which is being executed under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) toll mode,” a senior NHAI official told The Telegraph on condition of anonymity.
The 107-km stretch of NH-31 would be constructed at a cost of Rs. 1,175 crore and the private investors, who would get the toll collection rights from users for a period of 20 years, would invest 68 per cent of the project cost from their kitty.
The Centre would provide the remaining funds under the viability gap funding (VGF) head.
For the projects being taken up under the BOT toll mode, there is a provision of government assistance through VGF route. Its upper limit is 40 per cent of the total project cost. “The work on four-laning of Bakhtiyarpur-Khagaria road would commence in July 2012 and the project gestation period would be 30 months,” said the NHAI official.
He, however, made it clear that the four-lane bridge had nothing to with railways. The existing Rajendra bridge was constructed by the Indian Railways.
As far as the second four-lane bridge across the Ganga is concerned, it pertains to setting up of a two-lane bridge parallel to the existing two-lane bridge across the Ganga between Buxar and Balia. This stretch falls under National Highway 84 between Ara and Buxar from where it enters Uttar Pradesh.
The four-laning of NH-84 is being done as a package that also includes a stretch of NH-30 between Ara and Patna. One private investor has been awarded the four-laning work between Patna and Buxar (NH-30 and NH-84) and work on the project would begin from April 2012 with a gestation period of 30 months.
One of the major components of the Rs-920-crore project, for which 27.5 per cent would be provided by the Centre as VGF, is setting up of a four-lane road bridge parallel to the existing single lane Koilwar rail-cum-road bridge that was constructed in 1900.
The construction of the four-lane bridge on the Sone would be a big relief for commuters as vehicular traffic is allowed from one side at a time because of some structural constraints in the existing bridge.