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Opening of Elephant Gate bridge postponed again

Residents of the area lament over the long commute and traffic congestion due to the construction work that has been going on for 5 years

Opening of Elephant Gate bridge postponed again
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Ongoing construction works at the Elephant Gate Bridge

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CHENNAI: The construction of Elephant Gate bridge, which has been going on at a snail’s pace, has impacted the normal life of residents of north Chennai. As one of the arterial bridges, it has remained non-functional for more than five years.

Though the government departments had given assurances that the bridge would be reopened by December, now, it’s learnt that the deadline was pushed to next year.

“When the bridge was closed, it would take at least an hour to reach Basin Bridge, and this led to several route diversions. Even after different routes were diverted, we were forced to take long routes to reach Central Station and Purasaiwakkam. It’s one of the bridges used as a short-cut for residents of north Chennai,” recalled N Karunanidhi, a resident of Tondiarpet.

The difficulty due to slow pace of construction is compounded by the storm water drain works being carried out across the city.

Ever since the roads were closed for restoration of the old bridge, the traffic in and around Basin Bridge, Washermenpet and GNT Road has become chaotic. Traffic jams near Basin Bridge have become the new norm with commuters forced to take a detour — a serpentine route towards Stanley Hospital or towards the flyover on Erukkencheri High Road and a ‘U’ turn to cross hardly a few metres.

“Once the Elephant Gate bridge is opened, the traffic congestion near Basin Bridge will ease out. This will facilitate a free-flow of commute on the arterial bus route roads,” stated C Raghukumar, a civic activist in north Chennai. “It would benefit everyone if the GCC could also remove all the encroachments on Wall Tax Road, curb illegal parking and provide functional footpaths.”

A senior corporation official said, “The city corporation has completed the majority of the construction works, but the Southern Railway has delayed in constructing pillars of the bridge across the track. Only after they complete the work, we can start laying roads.”

The official also added that the construction was expected to be completed by the end of the year, but the deadline is likely to be pushed to next year. He admitted that the civic body receives multiple complaints regarding traffic congestion regularly.

The Southern Railway has achieved considerable progress in the construction of the Elephant Gate bridge. Posting an update about it, the SR ‘announced’ on social media that it has completed the sub-structure and successfully launched the first span’s Bowstring Steel girder across the tracks and cast the deck slabs.

An update posted on the official ‘X’ handle of the general manager of SR on September 16 said that the fabrication of the second span’s girder was almost complete.

The Elephant Gate bridge near Salt Cotorus is an important link road that connects Sowcarpet, Kondithope, Broadway, and other surrounding areas. It has been closed to the public for more than five years. As the structure became weak, it was closed for demolition and reconstruction of a new bridge.

In 2020, the GCC and SR began the construction work at a cost of Rs 27 crore.

Swedha Radhakrishnan
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