Before the lockdown, travelling between Mumbai and Pune took as much time as it took before they built the Expressway. A chokepoint after a steep incline in the hilly section before Lonavla would make traffic queue up for miles and move at snail’s pace. Heavy trucks would anyways struggle to climb the incline and on top of that, only two points of entry under the Amrutanjan bridge would make everybody queue up and wait. To ease movement, the 189-year old bridge which was a part of the old highway has now been demolished.
#WATCH Maharashtra: 189-year-old British-era Amrutanjan Bridge, near Lonavala, at Pune-Mumbai Expressway was demolished today through controlled explosion, to make traffic movement between Mumbai and Pune smoother. pic.twitter.com/Aex1V6D1Ai
— ANI (@ANI) April 5, 2020
Since the expressway is now shut for traffic because of the lockdown, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation took the opportunity to bring the structure down, at a cost of INR 50 lakh. On a normal day when traffic is never thin even for a minute on the busy route, it would have otherwise cost the organisation a massive INR 4 crore to complete the job. Goes without saying, the job would’ve required shutting down the busy route for many days. As of now, the demolition job has been executed and until cleaning activity is complete, emergency vehicles have been routed through the old Khandala route.
Explaining the demolition, a senior MSRDC official said, “The entire Mumbai-Pune Expressway, which is around 100 kms, has six lanes. But the wide pillars of the Amrutanjan Bridge had made some stretch near it a four-lane road. The pillars had occupied the space of an entire lane on both sides, which used to slow down the traffic. The bridge would have completed 190 years in November this year. But since it was causing a lot of hindrance to the traffic on the expressway, it was demolished using explosives.”
The six-lane expressway between Mumbai and Pune was the most technologically advanced piece of road when it was first opened to traffic. It goes through well-lit and long tunnels which have been fitted with advanced ventilation systems and escape routes. The speed limit on the expressway has been set to 80 kmph, although many regularly cross that limit and ditch lane discipline, which has led to many accidents. The authorities have since begun penalising offenders and now make use of advanced systems to nab those who are caught speeding above the limit.