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As India anticipates the completion of its longest sea bridge, the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL), the project’s latest developments and significance are generating widespread interest. This article delves into the latest news, the project’s background, its route, structure, cost, and the expected impact on connectivity and traffic in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
Mumbai Trans Harbour Link Latest News
Amidst the buzz surrounding the MTHL, the latest news suggests that the bridge, labeled as India’s longest sea bridge, might be opened to the public on December 25. However, with only 97 percent completion, the inauguration might proceed, but the entire project is not expected to conclude until January 2024. This discrepancy is due to pending work on electrification, pole erection, toll booths, and system integration.
Background: Inception to Implementation
The roots of the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link trace back to 1963 when it was initially proposed as the Uran Bridge. However, the project faced numerous obstacles before gaining momentum. In 2006, IL&FS proposed a Build Own Operate Transfer (BOOT) model, which was subsequently shelved. In 2017, the Maharashtra government entrusted the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) with the project, opting for an Engineering – Procurement – Construction (EPC) model. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) provided an official development loan of approximately Rs 18,000 crore.
Mumbai Trans Harbour Link Route: Connecting Mumbai and Navi Mumbai
Stretching across 21.8 km, the MTHL will link Mumbai and its satellite city, Navi Mumbai, becoming the longest sea bridge in India. Commencing in Sewri, South Mumbai, the bridge traverses Thane Creek, north of Elephant Island, concluding at Chirle village near Nhava Sheva. Key interchanges at Sewri, Shivaji-Nagar, SH-54 in Jasai, and Chirle on NH-348 optimize traffic flow, connecting vital areas like the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport, JNPT Port, Mumbai–Pune Expressway, and the Mumbai–Goa Highway.
Structure and Length of the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link
The MTHL comprises a 16.50-km sea link and a 5.5-km land portion. The sea link features a 6-lane highway with seven orthotropic steel deck spans, ranging from 90m to 180m. This innovative application is a first in India, offering a lighter and more flexible solution than traditional concrete decks. It enables rapid assembly, facilitates swift replacement or rehabilitation of bridges, and directly bears vehicular loads.
Cost and Implementation: Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA)
Managed by MMRDA, the MTHL project is estimated to cost Rs 17,843 crore. As of November 2023, 91 percent of the estimated cost has been spent. The implementation involved a consortium of AECOM Asia Company Ltd., PADECO Co Ltd, Dar Al-Handasah, and TY Lin International, serving as general consultants. The project comprised four stages, encompassing civil works packages and the integration of Intelligent Transport System (ITS), automated toll collection system, and electrical works.
Importance of the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link
The bustling city of Mumbai faces congestion challenges in local trains and public transport due to its dense population. The MTHL emerges as a transformative solution set to alleviate traffic during peak hours by 30-45 minutes. With the upcoming Navi Mumbai airport in Panvel, the bridge promises seamless connectivity from the mainland. It also addresses the limited road connectivity options between Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, potentially stimulating urban and industrial development.
Mumbai Trans Harbour Link Progress and Expected Completion
Commencing in 2018, with an initial estimation of concluding by September 2023, the MMRDA now indicates 97 percent completion. Despite the pandemic-induced delays, the BJP Maharashtra unit announced a potential inauguration on December 25, 2023. However, the MMRDA suggests a more realistic completion date in January 2024.
MTHL Toll Considerations and Subsidies
An integral aspect of the MTHL is the toll to be levied on commuters. Recent reports suggest that the Maharashtra government plans to heavily subsidize the toll, potentially by 40-50 percent. While the proposed toll was Rs 500, the cabinet is expected to approve a subsidy to make the toll more realistic for commuters.
The Mumbai Trans Harbour Link stands on the brink of transforming connectivity in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. As the project nears completion, its potential to alleviate traffic, enhance connectivity, and stimulate development becomes increasingly evident. The anticipated inauguration on December 25, though symbolic, aligns with the broader vision of a more connected and accessible Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.
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