Mumbai: Larsen & Toubro (L&T) has bagged a mega order worth over Rs7,000 crore for an underground road tunnel between Orange Gate, Eastern Freeway to Marine Drive coastal road.
In a statement on Friday, the company said that the scope of project comprises design and construction of twin road tunnels using tunnel boring machines (TBMs), connecting these tunnels to the existing elevated Eastern Freeway at Orange Gate near its southern terminal through transition ramps and to Marine Drive. The project is expected to be completed in 54 months, which is by 2028.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) had floated a bid December 31, 2022 for this two plus-two lane tunnel, also called ‘twin tunnel’. The estimated cost then was cited as Rs6,327 crore and the project deadline was communicated as mid-2027, as reported by the FPJ on January 1 this year.
MMRDA Shares Vision On Mega Project
This underground corridor promises to cut travel time to minutes from hours. Officials in the know said it will take motorists six to eight minutes.
MMRDA had then said, “This tunnel is part of the traffic dispersal plan from the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link towards Navi Mumbai. Our studies show there will be considerable traffic towards Marine Drive, Nariman Point, Colaba, Fort and Cuffe Parade.” The other traffic dispersal plan is the Sewri-Worli Elevated Road, the construction of which is also underway.
When ready, this 3.1km tunnel will be the longest underground road in Mumbai. It will cross the Central and Western Railway lines as well as the underground Metro line 3 (Colaba-Bandra-SEEPZ), which criss-crosses the metropolis at a depth of 25-27mt. The tunnel will go further below the Metro line at a depth of 30mt.
As widening of the existing roads was not an option, the alternatives left were an elevated road or going below the surface. As there are heritage structures in south Mumbai, including the Marine Drive precinct which is a UNESCO world heritage spot, the idea of a flyover had to be shelved.
The alignment of the elevated road or tunnel is roughly below the existing Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Road. The road here is narrow, with about a century-old buildings along the way. It involves acquisition of buildings and land that is part of prime real estate and also making it a time consuming task.
The third reason for opting to go underground, as reported by the FPJ in January, was that an elevated road would have obstructed the passage of taller Ganesh idols to Girgaum Chowpatty