Commuters must brace for a harrowing time while crossing Gandhi Setu to give way to repairs from the 39th to the 43rd span. One-way traffic regulations are presently in force to facilitate the repair of the 44th span of the bridge.
Road construction secretary (technical) Kedar Baitha told The Telegraph: “I have ordered the repair of the stretch between the 39th and the 43rd spans on the western stretch. Commuters travelling from Patna to Hajipur have to use the eastern flank till further notice. Repair work will start in two to three days.”
Work to replace the superstructure of the 44th span is in progress and the target is August this year. Repair of all six spans would be a big relief to commuters, helping resumption of the traffic movement on both flanks of the bridge. The pillars hold the superstructure of the bridge.
Asked about the tentative date of completion of the entire repairs, Baitha said: “I do not know the exact or the tentative date because the work is time-consuming.”
Talking about the commuters’ problem, Baitha said: “I am quite aware how the closure of the Rajendra bridge across Ganga in Mokama last year created problems for commuters. However, we cannot take chances here because the load on Gandhi Setu has drastically increased, leading to its damage.”
Patna superintendent of police (traffic) Satyaveer Singh said: “I am on Gandhi Setu now and the traffic flow is smooth. We have just asked the people to slow down their vehicles where repair work is on. As far information about repairing other spans on one stretch of Gandhi Setu is concerned, I have not heard about any such order.”
Latest figures show that more than 75,000 vehicles pass through the 5.575-km-long bridge daily. The road construction department will take two days to put new barricades on the Setu.
Posted in the national highway wing of the road construction department, executive engineer Naval Kishore Narayan Sinha said: “Barricading the bridge on the added stretch would take time. We have to complete all necessary work prior to closing the stretch. Work at the 44th span is in the last phase.”
The total cost of repairs on the five added spans would be around Rs 100 crore.
The state government has planned the construction of a six-lane state-of-the-art bridge over the Ganga parallel to the Gandhi Setu at a projected cost of around Rs 2,000 crore to help reduce the traffic load between north and south Bihar. Work is likely to start in July this year.
Traffic snarls on the Gandhi Setu are common and a journey that should take no longer than a few minutes often becomes nothing less than a nightmare for commuters.