The ongoing repair work of the Santragachhi bridge in Howrah will be completed by December 25, public works department (PWD) minister Pulak Roy said on Tuesday.
“While reviewing the repair work and its impact on traffic, we realised that it was necessary to wrap up the job as early as possible. Engineers have been asked to finish the work by December 25,” Roy told The Telegraph.
“The repairs started on November 19 and the initial deadline was the first week of January. That has been brought forward to reduce the difficulties that commuters are facing,” the minister added.
The Santragachhi bridge, which connects NH-16 to Kona Expressway in Howrah, is a lifeline for vehicles entering and leaving Kolkata via Vidyasagar Setu.
A traffic survey by the Howrah police shows that close to 70,000 vehicles use this bridge every day.
Its girders were last repaired in 2016.
Movement of traffic across parts of Howrah has slowed down since a PWD team took over a portion of the bridge to replace joints.
The expansion joints are being replaced so the bridge can oscillate properly and the vehicular load is evenly distributed down the pillars, engineers said.
The repair work has forced the police to ban the movement of all heavy goods vehicles on this key connector. Movement of cars, buses, two-wheelers and ambulances is been allowed between 5am and 11pm, but through a narrow channel.
The result has been disastrous with commuters struggling to move during morning and evening rush hours over the bridge.
“We have decided to bring in additional manpower and complete the task on a war footing,” minister Roy said. “The time from Christmas to New Year, people tend to move around and visit different places. We will finish the repair work prior to that.”
With the restrictions in force, goods vehicles headed for the Dhulagarh toll plaza on NH-16 (formerly NH-6) from Kolkata are now being allowed to move down Andul Road after crossing the toll plaza of Vidyasagar Setu between 10pm and 6am, senior police officers said.
“Since Andul Road is narrow, the movement of autorickshaws and battery-operated rickshaws or totos through it has been banned between 10pm and 6am,” said a senior officer of the Howrah police commissionerate.
Vehicles that would earlier take the Santragachhi bridge to enter Kolkata from the Dankuni-end, via Maitypara, are being diverted through Nivedita Setu, BT Road and Tallah bridge.
As a result, traffic has slowed at the Dunlop intersection, in the northern part of the city.
All goods vehicles bound for Durgapur Expressway and Delhi Road are being diverted towards Nivedita Setu and via Lock Gate flyover, Tallah bridge, BT Road and Dunlop.
Senior police officers said early completion of the repairs would mean less congestion on Chittaranjan Avenue and BT Road at night.