The Rs 1,600 crore (Rs 16 billion), 5.6-km Bandra-Worli Sea Link (BWSL), India's first open 8-lane, cable-supported sea bridge that will reduce traffic congestion in this metro, will be inaugurated by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi Tuesday, an official said.
The BWSL inauguration will be held at the northern end of the sea bridge which joins Worli in south Mumbai with Bandra in north Mumbai, the official told media here on Sunday.
A galaxy of leaders, including Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, central ministers Sharad Pawar, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde, Praful Patel, state ministers, legislators and parliamentarians shall attend the inaugural.
In construction for over 10 years, the new link between the southern island city and the northwest suburbs will be an alternative to the existing Mahim Causeway.
Currently, a daily traffic volume of over 1.4 million vehicles causes massive traffic snarls, especially during the morning-evening peak hours. The distance of 8 km between Bandra and Worli currently takes 60-90 minutes to cover during the morning-evening peak hours.
"After BWSL becomes operational Tuesday, this travel time will reduce to barely six-eight minutes. It will also entail savings in vehicular operating costs (VOC) of over Rs 1 billion a year," an official of the Maharashtra State Roads Development Corporation (MSRDC) said.
The chief attraction of the magnificent structure would be the two cable-stayed bridges, one 500 metres long (northern side) and another 350 metres long (southern side), for the passage of fishing boats.
The bridge rests on two towers, each 126 metres tall or equivalent to a 43-storeyed building. MSRDC has plans to provide a viewers' gallery at the top of the towers which would offer a bird's eye glimpse of the entire city.
There is a modern, automated, 16-lane toll plaza at the southern end, and the bridge has been equipped with sophisticated security and monitoring systems. Executed by Hindustan Construction Company over a period of more than 10 years, the MSRDC's project suffered a long delay of five years owing to various hiccups. The company will also maintain the bridge for the next five years.
The public sector giant, Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), has provided almost two-thirds of the steel used in building the link. The BWSL has gobbled up a total of nearly 22,235 tonnes of steel of which SAIL's share is pegged at over 13,780 tonnes, according to a senior SAIL official.
"The steel is of the best quality and has come from our integrated plants. All the steel rods, if laid in a straight row, would measure almost 3,000 kilometres or the breadth of India," the SAIL official said.
Although the bridge is designed for speeding at 100 km per hour, initially the MSRDC plans to impose a 50 km per hour speed limit to enable motorists to get used to the bridge and prevent accidents. Two lanes are proposed to be reserved exclusively for buses and heavy vehicles.