Kochi: The 65-year railway over bridge at Nagambadam in Kottayam has survived two controlled explosions aimed at bringing it down but the two-and-a half years-old Palarivattom flyover has already developed serious structural issues and will be closed for traffic on May 1 for 30 days for repairs.
With the work on flyovers at Kundannoor and Vytila in progress, the state's arterial road will prove to be a challenge for commuters in the city and those who pass through it, thanks to the incompetence and callousness of Kitco, the project consultant, and Roads and Bridges Development Corporation (RBDCK), the project implementing agency.
The work includes removal of materials between the spans, setting up strip steel joints there and relaying the top.
The work on the bridge on National Highway 66 started in 2013 as fast-track project aimed at offering smooth ride for vehicles without any joints in between and commissioned in 2016.
The RBDCK, however, realised the "technical error" much after commissioning of the Rs 39 crore flyover. The selection of the new deck continuity method for the bridge by Kitco, a government-owned technology consultancy, without proper study and the lack of expertise of RBDCK in monitoring it have resulted in the serious structural and other issues necessitating the massive exercise and disruption of traffic.
RBDCK realised the grave nature of the work after potholes started appearing on the 750-metre long overbridge, making it hardly motorable within months of opening of the bridge on October 2016.
The mishaps due to vehicles applying sudden brakes to escape uneven portion were on the rise, forcing the agency to carry out repair works several times. RBDCK then appointed an expert team from IIT Madras to conduct a study and suggest measures to rectify the error.
The study came up with several construction discrepancies in the bridge.
"This was the first time this construction technology was being used in the state," RBDCK sources said. "However we realised the technical error when rainwater started seeping into the gaps between the spans."
RBDCK sources say repairs will cost the government exchequer nothing as the full cost along with the study expense will be met by the contractor, Delhi-based RDS Ltd. "We' are yet to pay them the last installment of Rs 5 crore," the sources said. The cost of repairs will be known only after the work is over, they said....