The Mumbai Nagpur Expressway tunnel is 7.78km long and 35 meters wide, with two tubes - 17.50 meters in each tube.
In a landmark achievement of the upcoming Greenfield Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway, the Maharashtra State Road Development Cooperation (MSRDC) fast-tracked the completion of the road tunnel here, three months ahead of the schedule. Touted to be the state's longest and widest such stretch, the tunnel runs along a 7.8 km long route along Igatupuri in Nashik to Vashala in Thane, amidst a thickly forested hilly region, informed officials. The tunnel is about 35 meters broad, with two tubes - 17.50 meters in each tube.
Fastest moving package of the Greenfield Project
With due diligence and labour of the workers and engineers of the Afcons Infrastructure Ltd (AIL), Shapoorji Pallongi Group, despite the persistent fear of the COVID-19 threat, has added to the glory of this ambitious structure. This tunnel is part of the 1,310-km-long Package 14, which is being developed by the AIL for the MSRDC. Besides, its humongous spread, the underpass is said to be the fastest moving package of the entire 701-km=long "Hindu Hridaysamrat Balasaheb Thackeray Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg".
Connecting state capital Mumbai with its second capital Nagpur, the Greenfield Project is likely to kickstart operations by September 2021, partially and then fully by May 2022. A means of convenience and rapid travel, the Super Communication route will slash down 8 hours, almost half of the travel time between Mumbai and Nagpur.
Besides AIL officials, the MSRDC Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Radheshyam Mopalwar and other top officers were present during the last blast to witness the tunnel breakthrough.
Expressway to have two other smaller tunnels
The AIL package is planned to have two small viaducts of 900 metres and 1.20 km, which would enable passage to the wild animals in the forested region, where the expressway will not be fenced, said AIL Project Manager and Leader Sekhar Das. Additionally, two other smaller tunnels of 1.10 km and 300 m, will be built of this east-west corridor along with a vertical shaft and one incline shaft, to provide ventilation in the two tubes.
The entire project is being developed at a budget of ₹55,000 crores- where the tunnels are being dug by the drilling-blasting method. The project has been progressing at an average speed of over 200 metres for nine months, achieving the highest speed of 258.40 metres at one point despite strict COVID restrictions and protocols.
"Several of the workers fell ill despite all precautions, but they were cared for well and returned to work after treatment," Das said.
The expressway will map through 10 districts - Thane, Nashik, Ahmednagar, Jalna, Aurangabad, Buldhana, Washim, Amravati, Wardha and Nagpur, availing connectivity at strategic points to another 24 of the 36 districts in Maharashtra.