The bridge over Balason river on NH10 on the northwest end of Siliguri, the principal entry point to the city, will be closed for all vehicles from August 19 to 23, the state PWD (NH-IX division) and police said on Tuesday.
The reason for this is that the Bailey bridge, installed on a stretch of the bridge last year, will be dismantled. The Bailey bridge was installed after a pillar of the Balason bridge was damaged by the rain-fed river and a part of the concrete plank subsided on October 20 last year. It is no longer needed as the original bridge has been repaired, state PWD sources said.
“We will dismantle the bailey bridge installed on a stretch of the Balason bridge. That is why we have to stop traffic on the bridge. We have informed Siliguri Metropolitan Police that we need at least three days to remove all iron parts of the Bailey bridge,” said an official of state PWD.
Later in the evening, Gaurav Sharma, the commissioner of Siliguri Metropolitan Police, said the bridge will be closed to traffic from the morning of August 19 to the morning of August 23.
Sources in the PWD said the department carried out necessary repairs of the damaged pillar in the past three months and lifted the sunk part of the plank. In all, Rs 2 crore was spent for the work.
After the damage caused by the rain-fed Balason, traffic had completely come to halt along the bridge for eight weeks. Finally, last December, the Bailey bridge was installed and only light vehicles were allowed to move on the bridge.
A parallel fair-weather bridge was also installed by laying Hume pipes downstream but couldn’t withstand the monsoons.
Now that the bridge will be shut for for all vehicles from August 19-23, senior police officials on Tuesday spelt out the alternative traffic routes.
“Hill-bound light vehicles from Bagdogra and beyond will take alternative roads via Bengdubi and Panighata. Other passenger vehicles will move via Kawakhali along Asian Highway II. Heavy vehicles will move through Canal Road,” Sharma, the commissioner of police, said.
“As repair has been done, it has been decided that vehicles weighing up to 15 tonnes and with height up to 3.6 metres will be allowed on the bridge after it reopens,” he added.