Pune, 19th January 2024: The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) is gearing up for a significant expansion of the Pune-Mumbai Expressway, aiming to convert the existing six-lane speed corridor into an eight-lane thoroughfare. To accomplish this ambitious project, approximately 100 hectares of land will be required.
The idea to widen the expressway was initially proposed upon its completion in 2002, and now, in response to escalating traffic demands, MSRDC is set to submit a detailed proposal for the eight-lane conversion to the state government next week. The proposal is strategically timed for consideration in the upcoming state budget, anticipated to be announced in February.
A senior official overseeing the expressway widening revealed that the comprehensive project, estimated at Rs5,000 crore, is slated to be executed in phases, with a targeted completion date of 2026. Land acquisition becomes imperative for the expansion, as the plan includes the construction of eight new tunnels at locations such as Bhatan, Kamshet, and Madap.
The proposed land acquisition of 100 hectares involves negotiations with private entities, the forest department, and other relevant agencies. The funds sought, if sanctioned in two phases, will cover both land acquisition and construction costs, with an estimated Rs800 crore earmarked for acquiring land, particularly for the construction of the eight tunnels.
Commencing last year, the eight-laning initiative kicked off with the widening of a 6km stretch from Khalapur to Khopoli and a 1.5 km section near Talegaon toll plaza. The primary objective of this phase is to increase the capacity of toll booths at both locations. Khalapur toll booths are expected to grow from 16 to 34, while Talegaon will see an increase from 16 to 28 booths. Officials anticipate these expanded toll plazas to become operational in May.
Traffic congestion, particularly during festive occasions and weekends, remains a major concern on the expressway. The current year-on-year traffic growth rate stands at 5%. Commuters, like Mohit Nigam, emphasize the need for not only widening the road but also implementing effective diversions during traffic snarls. Suvarna Nimbalkar, an entrepreneur facilitating women’s trips across the state, advocates for additional toll booths and a more efficient system to clear vehicles in case of traffic congestion.
The MSRDC remains optimistic about the approval of funds and the successful execution of the project, with the collective efforts aimed at alleviating congestion and enhancing the overall commuting experience on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway.