The vital direct road connectivity between the city and Mangaluru International Airport has been cut off after the foundation of one of the pillars of the major bridge built across the Phalguni river at Maravoor, near the airport, on Mangaluru-Bajpe-Kateel Road sunk early on Tuesday leading to the closure of the road.
According to Yashwant Kumar, Executive Engineer, Mangaluru Division of the Public Works Department the foundation has sunk by about two ft.
Minister in-charge of Dakshina Kannada Kota Srinivasa Poojary, who visited the bridge. said that the foundation of pillar No. 8 has sunk. However, alternative routes provided connectivity to the airport. In addition to the airport at Kenjar, the more than 50-year-old bridge which was constructed in 1969 on the State Highway No. 67 (Mangaluru-Athrady) provided shortest and direct road connectivity from the city to Bajpe and Kateel areas. The bridge is 300 mts long.
Reason not known
The Executive Engineer said that the exact reason for the sinking of the foundation part is yet to be ascertained. There could be many factors.
A new parallel bridge is being constructed near the existing bridge since past three months at an estimated cost of ₹50 crore. Chances of its piling and pillar construction works damaging the foundation of the existing bridge are less, he said.
“We are confident of rectifying the damage. A two-member expert team of engineers from Bengaluru will examine the bridge and guide on the restoration,” Mr. Kumar said.
The Minister said that a decision on whether the pillar should be repaired or reconstructed will be taken based on the recommendation by the team of experts. It will submit its report in two days. The officials have been instructed to complete the new bridge by February, 2022.
Police Commissioner N. Shashi Kumar who visited the bridge early on the day asked flight travellers to use alternative roads to reach and depart from the airport. He said that travellers from the city and Kasaragod (Kerala) areas can take Nanthoor, Vamanjoor, Gurupura, Kaikamba and Bajpe route to the airport. Those coming from Udupi areas will have to take diversion at Mulki to arrive at the airport via Kinnigoli, Kateel and Bajpe.
“Till the experts give their opinion on the safety of the bridge it will not be re-opened for traffic,” he told presspersons.
Tweet from airport
In an advisory to passengers Mangaluru Airport tweeted: “…Traffic has been disrupted due to a crack in the bridge near the airport. Passengers are advised to take an alternate route via Baikampady. Please leave early for your flights from the airport.”
Driver notices damage
A car driver who drove across the Maravoor bridge from the city at about 2.30 a.m. noticed the damage and informed the police control room. Soon, the police closed the bridge for traffic.
The bridge had been constructed by Vijayavada-based firm Nagabhushanam and Co Engineers and Contractors.
This granite masonry bridge with RCC piers has nine spans and each span is 21 meters width. The width of the carriageway (road part) is 7.5 meters.
The National Highway division of the Public Works Department had inspected the bridge on May 13 when experts from the PWD’s Planning and Road Asset Management Centre (PRAMC) used bridge inspection crane vehicle to check all the piers and abutments. The PRAMC team had noticed displacement of grider in pier No.2, sources in the PWD said stating that another inspection had been scheduled in a few days before which the damage has occured.
Prior to the inspection by PRAMC team, a professor of the Civil Engineering Department at the National Institute of Technology-Karnataka, had inspected the same bridge for its strength.
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