The Santragachhi bridge, which connects National Highway 16 to Kona Expressway in Howrah, will be open to two-way traffic from 6am on Friday.
“We have decided that all vehicles, including trucks, will be allowed to use the bridge from 6am on Friday,” Pulak Roy, minister in charge of the public works department (PWD) told The Telegraph.
“We had started repair work on the bridge with a deadline of one-and-a-half months. But we succeeded in wrapping it up before that,” Roy said.
The Santragachhi bridge is a lifeline for vehicles entering and leaving Kolkata via the Vidyasagar Setu.
The crucial bridge was partly shut for repairs since November 19, forcing traffic to crawl along the entire stretch sometimes leading up to Kolkata.
Close to 70,000 vehicles use the bridge every day. The repair work meant commute time going up by several times, particularly for those who had to take the bridge during peak hours.
“A 45-minute ride to office from the Exide intersection would take over one-and-a-half hours following the partial closure of the bridge,” said Gurabmoy Chaki, who works with a logistics company.
While the bridge was being repaired, one flank was completely shut and the other flank alternately allowed vehicles to move from either side for a part of the day.
“Hopefully, the traffic woes would come to an end with the re-opening of both the flanks of the bridge,” said a senior officer of the Howrah police commissionerate.
On Thursday night, senior PWD officials visited the bridge to ensure that all machinery that had been deployed for the repair work was removed completely and the closed flank was readied for traffic movement beginning early Friday.
Several rounds of cleaning were carried out to remove nails and other sharp objects from the deck slab of the bridge.
“The repair has been thorough and we believe there won’t be any need for a similar exercise within the next few years,” Roy said.
There pair of the bridge was essential after a recent survey by structural experts revealed close to 20 expansion joints were severely damaged. This meant the bridge was not oscillating desirably and the vehicular load was not getting adequately transferred down the pillars to the ground.
With engineers flagging their concern, the state government decided to take up a repair job, which was last done in 2016.
After a series of meetings with officers of the three police commissionerates of Howrah, Kolkata and Barrackpore, a detailed traffic diversion plan had been drawn up.
Heavy vehicles were banned on the bridge with the start of the repair work. Only cars, buses, two-wheelers and ambulances were allowed between 5am and 11pm.
In Kolkata, all goods vehicles bound for Durgapur Expressway and Delhi Road were diverted towards Nivedita Setu and via Lock Gate flyover, Tallah Bridge, BT Road and Dunlop.
With the re-opening of the Santragachhi bridge, BT Road would breathe easy, police officers on the eastern bank of the Hooghly said.