Santragachi bridge – a key link between Kolkata and Howrah and several major highway networks and railway terminals is likely to be thrown open to normal traffic soon. On Tuesday, the Minister in charge of the Public Works Department, Mr Puluk Roy, said, “The repair work has been wrapped up before the estimated time. The traffic police can start the usual movement of vehicles on the bridge according to their convenience.”
A month has passed since repair work by the Public Works Department (PWD) engineers began on the Santragachi bridge for the replacement of damaged expansion joints in mid-November. This had led to extreme ordeals for thousands of commuters and chaos had become the order of the day. The resumption of normal traffic comes a little ahead of schedule and brings a sense of relief to many. As per a recent traffic survey done by Howrah Police, more than 70,000 vehicles ply over this bridge every day. The bridge had been partly closed from 19 November for repair work and all vehicles had been diverted through other road networks like Andul Road, Nivedita Bridge and Dr Bholanath Chakraborty Road.
Only small cars and public buses were allowed to use the Santragachi bridge in limited time slots. Santragachi bridge being one of the busiest entry and exit points to Kolkata, commuters had to face long halts and seemingly unending traffic snarls. The passenger traffic comprise mostly officegoers and small traders from Domjur, Amta, and Dhulagarh. A large number of tourist buses also use this route for Digha, Mandarmani-bound tourists. Relatives of patients visiting SSKM hospitals from the districts and rural belts also faced the brunt.
“We have been facing lots of hurdles to reach the SSKM hospital. At times we failed to reach on time for our appointments which were arranged after much difficulty,” said Nazneen Begum, a resident of Amta. Another commuter, Mr. Sanjay Mondal, who owns a grocery shop in Santragachi said: “I have to visit Kolkata twice every week to buy supplies from the markets. My business was suffering due to this traffic bottleneck. Thankfully, it is getting over.”
Several traffic guards in Santragachi, Batore and Belepole said that they were aware of the difficulties of the public and tried their best to ensure normal traffic flows. Numerous traffic policemen said that they were directed to supervise the work so that the repair work could be wrapped up as quickly as possible. “We had been given a date of December 24, but it has been completed a couple of days before that,” said a traffic