Igatpuri, a popular tourist location in Nashik district, will soon have another attraction as Maharashtra’s longest road tunnel, measuring 7.78 kilometres, 120 km north of Mumbai. Dual tunnels measuring 7.78km and 7.74km on the left and right are now 60% complete. The project is spread over Thane and Nashik districts, and it brings good news to the people. The tunnel to a great extent will reduce vehicular congestion at Kasara Ghat and help commuters save about one hour of travel time once it is operational.
Maharashtra’s ambitious Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway project has been named ‘Hindu Hurudaysamrat Balasaheb Thackeray Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg’ and is known as ‘Package 14’. Afcons Infrastructure is in charge of constructing this tunnel. ‘The tunnel was necessitated by the rise in the level between Kasara and Igatpuri,’ said Shekhar Das, Project Manager, Afcons Infrastructure. There is a nearly 350 metre level difference between these two places, plus the area has a hilly terrain. As a result, a tunnel was proposed.
Due to the terrain, there are several hairpin bends in the Kasara Ghat area, which causes travel time to increase significantly. Even crossing Kasara Ghat takes nearly an hour. As soon as the tunnel is completed, this distance will be covered in just five minutes, Das said. Even during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, work continued at the tunnel. Satish Paretkar, Director and Business Unit head, Hydro and Underground work, Afcons Infrastructure, explains that a considerable amount of time was spent spreading awareness within the nearby villages during the pandemic.
‘Outsiders were not permitted to enter the area. We communicated the current situation to the villagers, and then focused on vaccinating our workers. All of our workers are now vaccinated, so the work proceeds as usual,’ he said.
- Main Tunnel: Left-hand side length: 7.78 km; Right-hand side length: 7.74 km.
- Shaded Tunnel: 35 m
- Emergency crossings: 26 people each 44.16 m long
- Toll plaza: one interchange
- Overall progress: 60% (87 percent tunneling, 85 percent substructure).
Meanwhile, once the Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway is completed, commuters will be able to cover the distance of 701km between Nagpur and Mumbai within eight hours. The travel time from Mumbai to Aurangabad will be four hours and from Aurangabad to Nagpur another four hours.
Officials say this expressway and its feeder network will promote overall tourist development, connecting various tourist locations like Shirdi (Ahmednagar), Verul (Aurangabad), Lonar (Buldhana), Ajanta (Aurangabad) among others. Apart from this, the expressway is also expected to boost economic activity in parts of Vidarbha and Marathwada regions.