If you have travelled from Versova to Worli by road, you’d know the excruciating pain of driving across the Western Express Highway for over an hour.
But imagine if you could cover the same distance between Versova and Worli in less than 12 minutes?
One step forward to making the road traveller’s dream come true, the State Government of Maharashtra gave a green signal to the proposed Versova-Bandra sea link (VBSL) project on Monday.
This Government resolution (GR) giving administrative approval came in after eight long years after the after the state cabinet committee on Infrastructure (SCCI) cleared it in 2009. It took the government more than four years to get the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and environment clearance from the Centre, which was approved in January 2013.
The Versova-Bandra Sea Link once estimated to be built at a budget of Rs 5,975 crore has been hiked to over Rs 7,502 crore now.
The approved design plan is at the height of 900 meters away from the coastline. While the main four by a four-lane bridge of VBSL will be 9.60 kilometres, the cable-stayed bridge will be 0.30 kilometres long, and the Balance Cantilever Bridge will be 0.10 km long.
This sea link will be an extension of the 5.6-km Bandra-Worli sea link (BWSL) and will continue northwards, from its Bandra-end. The length of the Versova Bandra sea link has also been increased to 17.17 km to include the sea bridge and all its connectors.
The sea link will also have a 30-m long cable-stayed section, and three connectors including one at Otter’s Club, Bandra and the other two at Juhu Koliwada and at Nana Nani Park at Versova respectively.
The rationale behind the project is to ease traffic woes due to the Worli-Bandra sea link and direct vehicular traffic away from South Mumbai faster. At the same time, it will also help will connect significant hubs in the city’s western suburbs.
Toll plazas will be set up at Bandra, Carter Road, Juhu-Koliwada and at Nana-Nani Park. While the toll charges will be the same as the prevailing ones, the concession period shall be extended up to 2052.
The MSRDC which is the nodal agency responsible for the implementation of the project, was directed by CM Devendra Fadnavis in April 2016 to construct the VBSL on Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) model.
Under this, the MSRDC will appoint one contractor only to build the sea link and other contractors for collection of toll, repair and maintain the bridge. So, motorists will have to pay a separate toll to use the new sea link.
The MSRDC has already shortlisted five associations for the construction of VBSL. They expect the construction to begin by March 2018 and be complete by 2020-end, a senior MSRDC official told HT.
The plan of action of the road corporation to raise funds for the sea link include turning to the domestic market. The state government also has extended the toll collection period on the Bandra Worli Sea Link from 2039 to 2052, to help raise funds for the construction of VBSL and other projects.
But it is important to note that setting up the three connecting sites, will lead to the removal of mangroves, which the MSRDC, is yet to get clearance from the forest department about. But the road corporation is confident that the current direction of discussions with the department will help them secure the required clearance in a month’s time.