Tunnels, expressway proposed on Shiradi Ghat
The Rs 4,800-crore project expected to be completed in six years
The State government has conceived a ‘bypass express highway’ to tackle the poor road condition in Shiradi Ghat. If all goes well, the express highway with five tunnels, an arch bridge and three overbridges will be a reality in six years.
The road in Shiradi Ghat gets damaged due to heavy rain frequently leading to traffic chaos on the narrow and risky stretch. Repairs had become an annual affair with the maintenance turning out to be a challenge.
Under the ambitious project, it had been planned to construct a 18.5-km four-lane express highway from Maranahalli near Sakaleshpur up to Gundia on National Highway-48.
The experts of Japan International Consultancy Agency (JICA) who conducted a spot inspection near Sakaleshpur, have certified the feasibility of the Rs 4,800-crore project. Widening the present 26-km road between Sakaleshpur and Gundia is a Herculean task.
The project raises environmental concerns. But the proposed tunnel route will reduce the distance and ensures minimum damage to environment, JICA said in its report.
Subhashchandra Kuntia, Principal Secretary to Public Works Department, told Deccan Herald that it had been decided to take up the project in public-private partnership. “We have written to Union Ministry of Road Transport urging technical and financial assistance from Japan. A reply is expected in about two months,” he added.
Shiradi Ghat is about 850 feet above sea level. The expressway needs to be constructed in a slope from a height of 700 metre and hence the project poses a huge challenge. JICA had been requested to provide technical expertise, Kuntia disclosed.
Japan is experienced in the construction of tunnels and elevated roads. JICA has successfully constructed a 11-km Kanetsu tunnel in Japan, billed as the 11th longest tunnel route in the world.
It had been proposed to construct five tunnels covering a distance of 7.7 km, four overbridges for a distance of 3.9 km for the expressway. A two-km arch bridge near a valley also forms the part of the project.
Elevated bridges will have to be constructed to link hill ranges in the ghat. Pillars of a height of 30 metre will have to be erected to accomplish the task. Maranahalli is 700 metres above the sea level and Gundia, is located at a height of 155 metre from the sea.
In order to connect the two places at varying height downward gradient will have to be provided at every 100 metre, according to the preliminary report of JICA.
The financial viability of the project has been linked to the traffic density on the stretch. According to the JICA report, a project of this scale can be financially viable if the traffic density on the road is at least 10,000 vehicles per day.
The report furnished by the National Highways Authority of India puts the traffic density between Sakleshpur and Gundia at 8,000 vehicles a day. The data does not differentiate between the vehicles bound for long-distance journey and those plying locally.
JICA has suggested bolstering the consignment handling capacity of Mangalore port and connecting the port with those in Tamil Nadu. The Agency has also said that it would extend co-operation for developing the Mangalore port.