The Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport in Babatpur, around 26 km from Varanasi, will be the first in India to have a national highway running along an underpass, under the airport’s runway! The Times of India reports that the underpass will help the airport’s expansion plans to allow for larger aircraft to land and convert the highway into a 4-lane road.
Germany’s Leipzig Airport has something similar, where part of the construction includes an overpass for aircraft over a major highway!
The airport’s plans to expand its runway by building an underpass have gotten a nod from the Airports Authority of India. This arrangement will keep the Varanasi-Lucknow National Highway 56 intact.
As of now, the airport’s runway is 2,750 km, which will be extended to around 4,075 km, so larger cargo and Boeing aircraft can land. Officials claim the runway expansion and underpass construction will begin simultaneously.
SB Singh, Project Director, National Highways Authority of India (Varanasi), told the publication that this would be the first highway to pass under an airport runway. The underpass would solve the issue of deciding the NH56’s alignment, which is being converted to a 4-lane road. AAI is yet to begin the runway expansion project, and the NHAI is working on the existing highway patch to facilitate smoother vehicular movement.
The project has come on track after a series of issues.
The approval of the proposal to convert NH 56 into a 4-lane system, was given by the UPA government in 2013. AAI’s Masterplan-2004 had proposed the highway extension. But the project hit a roadblock as a railway track runs on the runway’s eastern side.
Hence, expansion could only take place in the west.
AAI has sought thousands of acres of land for the same. The proposal sat neglected for over a decade, until the AAI wrote to the UP government, on March 27, 2015, seeking the required land. Only last year did AAI restart identifying land for expansion.
As of now, with both the AAI and the NHAI working on the project, it seems on track. When completed, it will be the first highway under a runway in the country!