All about bridges before Durga Puja pandal-hopping
The Bypass-bound flank of the VIP Road flyover will be thrown open on Friday.
The city has been witnessing a flurry of bridge and flyover openings ahead of the festive season.
Metro takes stock.
The Bypass-bound flank of the flyover will be thrown open from Friday but vehicles cannot go faster than 20km per hour.
The speed limit has been set by an advisory committee of bridge engineers that the urban development department had set up after the collapse of Majerhat bridge last year.
The police will implement the limit by placing guardrails to discourage vehicles from speeding on the flyover. Buses and heavy goods vehicles will not be allowed either.
Despite the speed limit, the opening of the flyover is expected to significantly reduce the traffic congestion near Ultadanga, especially on the Puja days.
The puja at Sreebhumi and some others at Lake Town and Dum Dum Park attract huge crowds from across the city, thus increasing the load of traffic on VIP Road.
Even without the Puja rush, the tail of traffic reaches Lake Town on weekday mornings.
The flank was closed in July after a crack was noticed in one of the piers holding the span above the Kestopur canal. Engineers of the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) had also found problems in some other parts of the flyover.
The Chetla lockgate flyover that was shut in August was opened late on Monday. The bridge that is a little more than 20 metres in length runs over a canal.
“The underbelly of the bridge as well as the posts that support the bridge have several distress points. We have undertaken some temporary measures and lent additional support from below,” a CMDA engineer said.
The bridge would have to be dismantled eventually because it was beyond repair, the engineer said.
The reopening of the bridge would help residents of New Alipore and Chetla.
“Residents of the areas on both sides of the bridge are likely to benefit. It would also help reduce traffic snarls, especially during Puja,” said a New Alipore resident.
Chetla Agrani and Suruchi Sangha, two of the biggest crowd-puller pujas, are located in the area.
The Alipore Bailey bridges that were built after the collapse of the Majerhat bridge will now be open to north-bound vehicles all day.
The change will be effective from Tuesday.
Earlier, vehicles would take the twin bridges to reach Alipore and be allowed further north only in the morning. In the evening, Behala-bound vehicles would be diverted down the twin bridges from Alipore.
Pedestrians will be barred on the foot overbridges across Kestopur canal at Lake Town and Sreebhumi during Puja.
The footbridges act as a crucial link for residents of Salt Lake, Lake Town, Sreebhumi and Golaghata who use them to cross the Kestopur canal and VIP Road.
Health checks conducted on the brick-and-mortar bridges by the public works department had shown the structures to be weak and not strong enough to carry the weight of a crowd, an officer of the Bidhannagar commissionerate said.
“We have decided to keep the bridges shut as they are not in good shape to carry the weight of a large number of pandal-hoppers and residents,” said Kunal Agarwal, deputy commissioner, headquarters, Bidhannagar commissionerate.
“The public works department has given us in writing that the structure cannot bear the weight of a Puja crowd as large as this, the officer said.
Last year, too, the cops had shut down the bridge on Panchami.
“There were 800 people at a time on an average on the foot overbridge on Panchami. It was shaking. We had to close all the foot overbridges across VIP Road for safety reasons. This year, too, no repair has been carried out and we don’t want to take any chances,” the officer said.
The Sreebhumi, Golaghata and Bangur underpasses on VIP Road will, however, remain open to pedestrians.
The traffic police will also shut all link roads and intersections to manage traffic on VIP Road.