Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is mulling a two-phased demolition of Andheri’s Gokhale Bridge, a section of which had collapsed on July 3, killing two people. Civic officials said they could not afford to shut down the crucial east-west connector bridge altogether.
The move comes after an audit of the bridge termed it unsafe and fit for demolition. A consultant appointed by the BMC assessed the structural stability of the bridge and ruled the structure ‘beyond repair’. The corporation is considering pulling down one half of the bridge and reconstructing it, while the other half will remain functional. After the reconstruction of the first half, the other will be razed.
“We can close half of the bridge (eastbound or westbound) and divert traffic to the other half. The number of lanes will be reduced, but at least it will be functional. Once one half is reconstructed, we can take up work on the other,” said an official from the bridges department, adding, “We want to know whether something like this is possible and safe. And whether diverting traffic on one side adds load to the bridge. It is a herculean task for us.”
The BMC is awaiting a structural consultant’s report on the feasibility of the proposal. The BMC and the WR have already been facing flak for closing the Delisle Bridge in Lower Parel and would not want to risk the same in the case of Gokhale Bridge. A consultant has been asked to prepare the demolition plan and work out the cost. The plan will be subject to scrutiny, then must be approved by the standing committee and there will be a bidding process before a contractor is selected. The BMC and the WR are also working in tandem on demolishing 18 bridges and foot overbridges in the city.
The corporation has reportedly asked consultants to map out alternative routes before demolishing bridges, so as to avoid inconveniencing commuters.