THOOTHUKUDI: Road users have urged the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to repair the bridge over Thamirabarani on Thoothukudi-Tirunelveli NH stretch. The bridge has damaged for the second time, sources claimed. An investigation is also sought for the “poor construction” of the bridge. Meanwhile, the NHAI authorities said that an inspection by the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) was being delayed due to the pandemic.
The Thoothukudi-Tirunelveli NH stretch bustles with vehicles. A large pothole was developed in the bridge on March 14. Consequently, only one lane of the bridge was made available for use. Users allege the damage was mainly because of poor construction. The bridge first damaged in November 2017.
According to a reply received for a questionnaire under RTI Act dated August 20, the repair and rehabilitation of the bridge in 2017 costed Rs 3.14 crore and that the bridge was closed for 168 days.
Speaking to TNIE, A Sankar, a resident of Thoothukudi, argued that toll fee should not be collected as either of the lanes of the bridge remained closed for over 342 days in the past seven years, quoting an RTI reply. “The collector should constitute a committee to investigate into the deficiencies in the construction and take steps for a CRRI inspection,” he said.
Thoothukudi Lorry Owners Association President N P Jegan suspected use of substandard materials in the bridge construction. The stretch is being maintained poorly by the NHAI authorities, he alleged.
He said certain curves and diversions on the stretch have become accident-prone zones. The collection of toll fee should be stopped until the bridge is restored, he said.
Speaking to TNIE, NHAI Project Director B Sankar said the works were being delayed due to the pandemic. “Only after an inspection, repair works can begin. "Since the bridge is damaged for the second time, a test on the stability of the bridge will be conducted," Sankar said, adding that officials might arrive in 10 days for the test.
The 47.25-km-long Thoothukudi-Tirunelveli NH stretch was constructed at a cost of Rs 349.50 crore and was opened for public use in 2013. The toll fee is being collected at Vaagaikulam.