Mumbai, Jan 8: After a year of closure resulting in horrific traffic jams, Mumbai’s crucial Gokhale Bridge witnessed a significant milestone on the night of December 3, 2023, with the successful launch of its first 90-meter Open Web Girder (OWG). This giant steel construction marks a major step towards the bridge’s reconstruction, bringing relief to commuters battling traffic congestion in Andheri’s east-west corridor.
The launch, conducted by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), involved careful maneuverings of the massive girder over the railway tracks using a complex launching system. A successful trial run the day before paved the way for the smooth execution of this critical operation. This girder, the second longest railway overbridge (ROB) girder in Mumbai after Vidya Vihar ROB, signifies the scale and complexity of the bridge’s reconstruction project.
With the first girder in place, the BMC is now focusing on creating the road surface on the bridge. This stage is estimated to take approximately two months, leading to the partial opening of one lane, that is the south arm of the bridge, set to be in operation by February 14. This will provide much-needed respite to commuters, who have been grappling with detours and increased travel times since the bridge’s closure in November 2022 due to structural concerns.
“The launch of the first girder is a significant achievement in the reconstruction of the Gokhale Bridge,” said P Velrasu, Additional Municipal Commissioner (Projects) for the BMC, quoted in The Times of India. “We are committed to completing the project as expeditiously as possible while ensuring the highest quality and safety standards.”
The project has also been overseen by the MMRDA and Western Railway, both of whom have jurisdiction over parts of the project, calling for collaborations at the highest level.
The completed bridge is expected to be operational by this coming May. It comprises four lanes in each direction and a central median. The new bridge will feature modern amenities like wider footpaths, dedicated cycling lanes, and improved drainage systems.
Constructed in the year 1975, the bridge was named after the renowned social reformer and political leader Gopal Krishna Gokhale.
However, in 2018, a tragic incident occurred when the pedestrian section of the bridge collapsed, leading to the deaths of two and injuries to three others, due to corrosion and over load of paver blocks.
Over the next three years, the bridge was largely shut down for repairs with traffic backing up for as much as 2 km in both directions, since each arm (North and south) was opened only partially. Last year in November, a decision to rebuild it completely at a cost of Rs. 103 crore was undertaken, with assurances that it would be completed and open for traffic in one year. That has not happened, and the latest date (fi e of them earlier), is February for the south arm and May for the complete opening.