After an overbridge near Andheri railway station collapsed, panic struck SoBo after cracks were seen on a bridge on Grant Road, which goes over the railway line. Because of the cracks, seen on many parts of Maulana Shaukat Ali Road which connects Nanachowk to Lamington Road, the route was blocked to traffic on Wednesday morning, but reopened by 2.45 pm, after the civic body said the ‘cracks’ were usual and the road stable.
“Such cracks keep coming up on the road due to contraction and expansion. We had done an inventory and structural survey of the bridge four to five months ago. As per that, the bridge is repairable, not dilapidated for it to be pulled down and rebuilt,” said an engineer from bridges department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
The Mumbai police had closed the over 100-year-old bridge and diverted morning rush hour traffic, allowing only pedestrians on the bridge. The bridge was surfaced with tar over five years ago and is due for repairs.
Commuters had a harrowing trip in the meantime. Prashant Jadhav, resident of Napean Sea Road, said he had to take a detour to go to the market on the other side of the railway bridge. “We did not know that they have shut down the bridge. They haven’t put up any boards on the approaching road. We got to know only when we reached here. It will take another 10 minutes at least to reach the spot,” said Jadhav, who was on a two-wheeler.
KS Bajaj, a passenger travelling by bus from Napean Sea Road, wanted to go towards Pydhonie. He had to get down midway at the Nana Chowk signal and walk. “There was no announcement. Obviously people are harrowed. I had to go to Pydhonie and will now have to walk down. They should have informed commuters. The bus guys also did not know while we were boarding the bus. They stopped the bus while taking a detour at the signal and I got down so that I can cross over to the other side.”
“I got a number of calls. I asked both the BMC and railway officials to come here. I have told them to give me the audit report and assess whether the road condition is stable enough for it to be thrown open to traffic. Till the time they do not do that, I will not allow the bridge to be opened up,” said local corporator Minal Patel earlier in the day.
Local residents’ and political groups blamed the BMC for the bridge’s state. Prafull Saple, resident of Topiwala Lane, close to the bridge, said, “Twenty-five years ago they had raised the height of the bridge. They just put tar on top of it later. You never know when the bridge will give way.”
The BMC began excavating some parts of the bridge to see its stability. “We feel it is all right. The railways has said it is fine and we have opened it,” said an officer from BMC. The railways, which charges BMC for the upkeep, maintains the bridge. The other maintenance, including tarring of the road surface including on the part the railways looks after, is done by BMC.
“This is an old bridge. It is the responsibility of BMC and railways to look after it. It should be audited every year. Tardeo bridge, French bridge, Keneddy bridge — all go over the railway line. Piyush Goyal should give up one of his ministries and focus solely on railway,” said Prakash Reddy, secretary of CPI.