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Street-smart new year

Patna, Jan. 1: The year 2013 would prove to be lucky for commuters. At least four new roads and three bridges would pave the path for smooth driving in the state.

Travelling between the state capital and Muzaffarpur would be hassle-free after the under-construction 63-km-stretch of National Highway (NH) 77 is opened for public in April. An official of National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) claimed that three more stretches of national highways — 51-km-long Patna Bakhtiyarpur (NH-30), 82-km-long Muzaffarpur-Sonebarsa (NH-77) and 70-km-long Mokama-Munger (NH-80) — would be opened for public use by the end of this year. Besides, three new bridges would be inaugurated this year. “The Arwal-Sahar bridge over river Sone is ready for inauguration. Two others — one between Gopalganj and Bettiah and another between Dhanaha and Ratwal in West Champaran district on the Gandak — would be completed this year,” road construction minister Nand Kishore Yadav said.

Of all the new bridges and roads on the cards, the commuters would benefit the most from the new stretch of NH-77, connecting the state capital with Muzaffarpur.

As things stand now, travelling on this stretch is a nightmare.

On an average, it takes two hours to cover the 60km-stretch between Hajipur and Patna. If there is traffic snarl, which is common due to the ongoing construction work, one may end up spending well over three hours covering the distance.

The process of constructing the four-lane road was started in 2005-06. But tenders failed to draw bidders because they apprehended law and order problem. After the law and order improved, the bidding for this Rs 576 crore project was floated in 2009-10.

The project is being implemented under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) annuity mode in which the toll collection has to be done by the NHAI and not the construction agency.

“All the land acquisition related issues have now been settled and the work is now going on in full steam. The four-lane road would be ready for public use by April this year,” a senior NHAI official told The Telegraph.

The road is of great significance not only for those commuting between Patna and Muzaffarpur only because the NH-77 is one of the main links to other north and east Bihar districts.

While the southern end of this stretch of the NH 77 would merge with NH-19 that leads to Gandhi Setu, the northern end would meet with NH-28 — a part of east-west corridor — on the outskirts of Muzaffarpur. A 16-km-long bypass road, an integrated part of this project, would allow commuters to cross Muzaffarpur without touching the busy areas like Ramdayalu Nagar, Bhagawanpur and Chandni Chowk.

As the new road would provide a direct connectivity to the east-west corridor, those going to places like Motihari, Bettiah, Raxaul, Gopalganj, Siwan, Darbhanga, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, Madhubani and even Supaul and Purnea via Muzaffarpur would save time spent in passing through the Muzaffarpur town.

As far as toll collection on the NH-77 is concerned, the official said it would start only after the construction of road overbridges at railway crossings at Hajipur and another 5km north of it. “These overbridges would be ready by the end of July. After they are opened for public, the toll collection work would start,” added the NHAI official.

The NHAI has been entrusted with the task of constructing 2,400km of roads in the state. It has already constructed 1,100km and 2013 would witness addition of more than 250km of roads.


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