Photographs: Rajesh Karkera Matthew Schneeberger in Mumbai
Sonia Gandhi, President of the Indian National Congress and chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance government, inaugurated the Bandra-Worli Sea Link on Tuesday, June 30.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of Mumbai residents lined the streets of Bandra, a Western Mumbai suburb, hoping to catch a glimpse of India's most powerful politician.
She cut a ribbon in front of one of 16 toll booths on the Bandra side and was the first to slide a pass through the electronic sensor of the automated toll system, lifting the barricade so that she and her security detail could pass through.
They then drove the entire span of the sea link, all the way to Worli before turning around and driving back.
Free until July 5
Photographs: Rajesk Karkera
The Bandra-Worli Sea Link, originally scheduled to open in 2004 but pushed back because of delays, is India's first and longest open sea cable-stay bridge. It will open to the public on Tuesday, June 30, at 11 p.m., according to officials present at today's inauguration.
On hand at Tuesday afternoon's inauguration ceremony were Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujal and Hindustan Construction Corporation chairman and managing director Ajit Gulabchand.
As part of a promotion plan, motorists will be able to use the sea link for free until July 5; after that, a fee system will be implemented, as follows:
Basic Fee (1-way): Cars and SUVs - Rs 50; Mini bus and other similar sized 4 wheelers - Rs 75; Bus and trucks - Rs 100.
Two way passes will 1.5 times the basic toll, while daily multiple entries will be 2.5 the basic tolls. A monthly pass will be 50 times the basic toll.
'A monument worthy of Mumbai'
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera
Construction of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link has been one of the most challenging infrastructure projects undertaken in recent times in India. Reflecting on the hard work of our engineers and over 3000 workers who have raised this sea link in rough open sea conditions, I am proud to say we have truly built a monument to human skills, enterprise and determination," Gulabchand said at the launch.
"We took on this project with the quest to set new benchmarks in precision engineering and prove India's infrastructure development capabilities. We are confident that Bandra-Worli Sea Link will be a precedent for superior infrastructure development in India. This is truly a monument worthy of a city as great as Mumbai," he added.
'The second carriage-way will open in December 2009'
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera
The highlight of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link are the two cable-stayed bridges - one a 500 metre span and the other a 150 metre span -- with the highest towers reaching a height of 126 metres, about the height of a 43-storied building.
The Bandra-Worli Sea Link is a pre-cast segmental box girder continuous bridge with twin carriage-ways of four lanes each. Immediately, one carriage-way will be opened to traffic with two-lane traffic in both directions. The second carriage-way is expected to open in December 2009.
Critics have said that traffic of Worli sea face will worsen considerably, if Mumbai's traffic police are unable to handle the heavy influx of vehicles. Yesterday, however, Mumbai Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Sanjay Barve said that these rumours were unfounded, and that police were fully prepared.