Two months before throwing open the second Vivekananda Bridge, the West Bengal government and the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) have agreed to add four new ramps to it at a cost of Rs 7 crore.
The official line on the last-minute alteration in the Rs 750-crore project is simple: the ramps two on the Howrah side and two near Dakshineswar will ensure smooth traffic flow on the bridge and better connectivity with Calcutta and Howrah.
But the buzz is, it took a lot of persuasion by the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government to get the NHAI to agree to its proposal. The standing committee on the second Vivekananda Bridge, chaired by chief secretary A.K. Deb, put its seal of approval on the plan for the ramps on Monday.
In the earlier plan, there was no link between Dakshineswar and the airport, as well as the eastern parts of the city. We wanted to correct it
Besides, we also realised that as there was no access from the Howrah side, it would have caused a vehicle pile-up there, said a senior PWD officer.
This is, however, a rather late realisation for the government probably wiser from the AJC Bose Road flyover faux pas since the bridge is nearly complete and will be commissioned by April-end.
According to the plan, the twin ramps on the Dakshineswar side totalling more than a km in length will take around eight months to come up and are likely to wreak havoc on the already-congested BT Road.
Work on the Howrah side building two ramps totalling 1.2 km will take more than a year.
While we join the ramps with the bridge, we may have to close some lanes for a few days, admitted a PWD officer. But the pain will result in future gains, as officials argue that the ramps will ensure smoother and faster traffic flow in all directions.
After preliminary clearance from NHAI chairman Pradip Kumar, the central body will appoint consultants and begin a survey, before kicking off the project shortly.