The traffic movement on the prohibited part of the western flank of Gandhi Setu would resume within a year with the Centre providing funds to replace its 44th span.
“The Centre has provided Rs 33 crore for complete overhaul of the western part of the 44th span, including replacement of the superstructure of the stretch,” road construction department minister Nand Kishore Yadav told The Telegraph. He said the tender for undertaking the work had been floated and the repair work would be completed within a year.
The 44th span (near Patna-end) on the western flank of the bridge plunged two feet below the normal level of Gandhi Setu, forcing its closure for more than a year.
The traffic — both from Patna and Hajipur sides — in this stretch of the bridge has been diverted to the eastern flank because of the defect, leading to frequent traffic snarls.
According to estimates, more than 25,000 vehicles pass through the 5.575-km-long bridge daily as it is the main link between north Bihar and Patna. The western lane of Gandhi Setu was opened for public in 1982 and the eastern flank in 1987.
The repair of the 44th span would be a big relief to commuters. After it is fixed, the traffic movement would resume on both lanes in this stretch of the bridge.
Apart from this stretch, at least two other points on the western flank of the bridge are being repaired. This aspect is being taken care of, too.
In addition to the funds for repairing of the 44th span, the Centre has released an additional Rs 29 crore for undertaking the routine maintenance work. “Our goal is the make both the lanes of the bridge available for vehicular movement and the maintenance work is being carried out keeping this fact in mind,” said Yadav, the road construction minister.
Given the condition of the bridge opened for public in 1982, there are apprehensions if would be able to bear the projected traffic load between north and south Bihar in years to come.
“We are of the opinion that Gandhi Setu can take the load of heavy vehicles maximum for eight to 10 years. That is why we have planned to construct an alternative six-lane bridge between Patna and Vaishali districts,” he said.
According to the road construction department sources, the detailed project report of the proposed bridge would be ready in this year. The new bridge is expected to come up four years after the selection of the agency that would undertake the construction work. “Once the new bridge becomes operational, Gandhi Setu would be used for movement of light motor vehicles only,” said the source, adding that the step would enhance the life of the existing bridge.