The Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link (MTHL), proposed over four decades ago, is on the verge of completion. The connecting ramps on both sides of the bridge should be completed by June, and the main deck by November. 93 per cent of the work has been completed, and surface paving has already started on various parts of the deck. The bridge is built to last a hundred years.
The bridge could be opened up by December this year if Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the implementing authority, meets these deadlines. The 22-kilometre-long bridge will connect Sweri with Nhava Sheva. 16.5 kilometres of the bridge will be over water, thus making it the longest bridge in India, and the twelfth longest in the world.
However, the full benefit of the bridge will be received only after the completion of the Worli-Sewri connector, linking the Coastal Road with MTHL, and a direct link between MTHL’s Chirle-end and Mumbai-Pune Expressway. The bridge will give a boost to eastward trade and push redevelopment of cessed buildings in South Mumbai. It is expected to open up employment opportunities as businesses may like to set up their back offices in Navi Mumbai.
The bridge will reduce travel time between Mumbai to Pune and Mumbai to the Navi Mumbai International Airport. It will boast a daily handling capacity of up to 60,000 vehicles and project annual savings of one crore litres of fuel and 25,680 million tons of carbon emissions. Anti-crash and noise barriers and an AI system have been deployed to monitor and manage traffic. Interchanges will be present at Sewri in Mumbai, and Shivaji Nagar and Chirle in Navi Mumbai. Gawhan, Navi Mumbai, will have a toll plaza with an open road tolling system that doesn’t need vehicles to stop to pay the toll charges. The bridge can handle speeds up to 100 kilometres per hour.
Advanced construction and material technology were employed to combat the challenges of construction in a complex environment like a prolonged monsoon and harbour topography replete with container ships, fishing boats, oil pipelines, and an atomic facility. After the multiple delays over almost three decades, a consortium of L&T and Japan’s IHI Infrastructure Systems received the cash contract to build the Sewri side of the bridge and the land work, while Daewoo-Tata received the contract to build the Navi Mumbai side of the bridge. The final construction began in April 2018. Due to the massive delay, the project cost spiked from ₹4,500 crores in 2005 to ₹17,843 crore in 2018. A loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) covered around 85 per cent of the cost.