Pune: The work of constructing the missing link – two tunnels, two viaducts with new eight-lane road – between Khalapur and Kusgaon on Pune-Mumbai Expressway has gathered pace with labourers returning after the lockdown was relaxed. More than 1.5 kilometres of tunnel digging work has already been finished, said Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) officials.
The missing link project proposal was cleared by then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis led Cabinet Sub-Committee on infrastructure last year. The link starts at Khopoli and through an interchange, leads to Kusgaon at the Pune-end of the Expressway. After its construction, motorists heading to Pune can avoid the critical ghat section. Due to this link, the travel time between Mumbai and Pune will be reduced by around 25 minutes.
The Mumbai-Pune Expressway is presently a six-lane road with a total length of 94 km. The Expressway and National Highway 4 meets near Khalapur Toll Plaza and separates near Khandala exit. The section of 7.2 km from Adoshi Tunnel to Khandala exit is a six-lane road but traffic equivalent of a 10-lane road plies in this section. The existing section from Khopoli exit to Sinhgad Institute is 19 km. it will be reduced to 6 km after construction of the missing link and reduce travel time by 20 to 25 minutes.
The Rs 4,794 crore 13-km bypass will separate traffic on the Expressway and the old Pune-Mumbai highway that presently shares the 10-km Lonavla-Khandala Ghat section and sees frequent traffic snarls. It will cost Rs 2,670 crore. Afcons Infrastructure will build the three-km cable stay six lane viaduct for Rs 1,492 crore.
MSRDC officials met on August 11 to take review of the work progress of the missing link. The work on this link started before the Covid-19 outbreak started in the country and was halted after a nationwide lockdown was imposed in March. Labourers working at the site had left for their native places, but now have returned to the site.
MSRDC Sub-Divisional Engineer Sanjay Patil said, “Work has gathered pace on the missing link project. Out of the total 9 kilometres, 1.5 kiloemtres work of tunnel digging has been completed. The entire project will be completed in three years.”