The reconstructed Tallah bridge was inaugurated on Thursday, a little over two years after the earlier 60-year-old structure was pulled down.
The bridge’s inauguration means an office-goer who spent close to 35 minutes travelling by car from Paikpara to Shyambazar in the morning rush hour through Belgachhia will now take about 10 minutes to cover the same distance.
Bus passengers will not be so lucky immediately. The bridge will now be open for small vehicles and buses will continue to take the detour either through Cossipore or Belgachhia.
“This is a big gift to you all before the Puja,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee said while inaugurating the 750-metre-long Hemanta Setu over the tracks in Tallah in the evening amid loud cheers.
“I had instructed the PWD to complete the construction early. We faced some challenges because of Covid. This inauguration wouldn’t have been possible but for the tireless efforts of the workers, engineers as well as residents who extended their cooperation by braving odds. The state government has spent Rs 540 crore to build this bridge,” said the chief minister.
Small vehicles including cars will start moving down the bridge from Friday once the temporary structures erected for the inauguration are dismantled.
The inauguration of the Tallah bridge will not alter vehicular movement along the nearby Lockgate flyover, a senior police officer said.
Barring trucks, vehicles headed towards central Kolkata from the Dunlop-end of BT Road can take the Lockgate flyover till 1pm. After that, the flow is reversed. The inauguration of the Tallah bridge will mean the Lockgate flyover will remain an option for smaller vehicles to reach parts of central Kolkata over the railway tracks in Tallah.
PWD engineers said the width of each of the flanks of the new bridge — over 9 metres — is larger compared with the conventional 7.5 metres, suggesting that vehicles will move faster.
The bowstring bridge will get another layer of bitumen within a week, and by then clearance will come for allowing heavy vehicles to move down the bridge, PWD engineers said. Engineers said the 300-metre-long ramp towards Chitpore is ready and once the nod comes, trucks can start using it to reach the railway yard below.
“We are not allowing heavy vehicles immediately to check how the system is functioning,” Mamata said.
“It’s like entering a new house and then checking out lights and waterline. I expect that traffic congestion will be reduced even further in the near future.”