Work on one of the road projects that Mumbai is looking forward to, the 22-km Eastern Freeway, has started. The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) early this week started laying the foundation for the road that is likely to throw open the eastern waterfront for development besides giving Mumbai’s central and eastern suburbs a quicker access to the island city.
The Eastern Freeway, from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum (formerly Prince of Wales) to the Eastern Express Higway at Anik-Wadala, will be a high-speed corridor that will enable motorists to traverse the entire distance in 20 minutes. Motorists now travelling northeastward from Fort take the D N Road-JJ Flyover-Dr B R Ambedkar Road route to reach Sion, which takes almost an hour. So the Eastern Freeway will save nearly 40 minutes and also take the pressure off the existing roads, officials feel.
The freeway will be ready by December 2010 and is estimated to cost Rs 531 crore. It is being funded under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission; the Centre will bear 35 per cent of the cost, the state 15 per cent and the MMRDA the remaining 50 per cent.
MMRDA had obtained a no-objection certificate from the Mumbai Port Trust to carry out the work during monsoon. But the initial work, laying of the pile foundation, involves digging, trenching and boring and will affect traffic on the narrow MbPT road. The road will be an elevated structure from CST to Anik-Wadala Link Road (a distance of nearly 8.9 kilometres). The elevated road will affect around 60 structures, belonging to the MbPT and spread over a length of 2 kilometres, near Carnac Bunder and they will have to be demolished. Most of these buildings were leased out and the MbPT recently carried out a survey and found that most of the leases had expired. So there should not be a problem in demolishing them. The MMRDA has also had to raise the height of the elevated structure from 5.5 metres to 6.5 metres so that it does not affect the port railway network.