Mumbai: In a recent meeting with Western Railway authorities, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) announced the fourth extension of the deadline for opening one side of the Gopal Krishna Gokhale Bridge in Andheri. Initially scheduled for opening by May 31, various setbacks, including a strike at a steel plant in Rourkela and flooding in an Ambala factory, pushed the deadline to February 15, 2024. The assembling of the bridge's first girder, weighing 1,300 tonnes and standing at a height of approximately 25 meters, is nearing completion.
BMC urges WR for additional time for night blocks
The BMC has enlisted the assistance of a consultancy firm to guide the process of launching and sliding the girder. Due to the complexity and risk involved in this project, the BMC has requested approval for extended night blocks from railway authorities. Ashok Kumar Mishra, the general manager of Western Railway, has instructed officials to provide information and drawings outlining the total blocks required for the bridge's launching.
This project marks a pioneering effort in the country, involving the lowering of a girder from a height of 7.5 meters onto the bridge. Given the constraints of rail blocks, wherein a girder can only be lowered by 15 cm within an average one-hour block, the time required for this process might extend. Consequently, the BMC has urged Western Railway to grant additional time for night blocks.
"After the girders are brought down and installed, bars will be laid, and cement concretization will take place. Mastic work will follow the curing process. Only after completing all these tasks will it be possible to open the bridge for one-way traffic by February 15, 2024," stated the BMC representative.
The Gopal Krishna Gokhale Bridge, a vital link connecting Andheri East and West, faced a tragic collapse in 2018, resulting in the loss of two lives. Following an audit, the bridge was deemed unsafe and was completely closed down on November 7, 2022.
"This marks the third or fourth extension for the reopening, and it's incredibly disappointing. Traffic congestion and poor air quality will persist, offering no relief to the over 20 lakh residents in Mumbai's densely populated neighborhoods."
Dhaval Shah, Founder of Lokhandwala Oshiwara Citizens Association.
"A crucial point to remember is that the Gokhale Bridge saga began with misleading information. VJTI and IIT never stated that this bridge, spanning over railway lines, was dilapidated; they confirmed its usability. Yet, the BMC demolished it based on fabricated stories, leading to a chain of further misrepresentations. Today's change in the deadline is just a part of their larger narrative, and it certainly won't be their last."
Zoru Bhathena, Activist.