India’s First Hybrid 14-Lane Highway : An Analysis

India’s First Hybrid 14-Lane Highway : An Analysis

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Delhi-Meerut Expressway

Delhi-Meerut Expressway is India’s widest 96 km long controlled-access expressway, connecting Delhi with Meerut via Dasna in Ghaziabad in India. The 8 lanes old stretch of National Highway 24 (NH-24) up to Uttar Pradesh Gate is widened to 14 lanes(widest expressway in India) , the road between UP Gate and Dasna will be also be fourteen-laned. The next phase of the expressway will be built on a new alignment from Dasna to Meerut – a six-lane stretch joining Meerut bypass. The 28 km (17 mi) stretch between Nizamuddin Bridge and Dasna is one of the most congested areas in the NCR. The total project cost is `78 billion (US$1.2 billion).

How it all began:

A proposal for a Ghaziabad to Meerut expressway was mentioned in the Lok Sabha by the then Minister of State for Urban Affairs and Employment in March 1999. The proposal again found mention in a February 2000 seminar speech by the then Union Urban Development Minister.

An expressway from Delhi to Meerut via Ghaziabad was then proposed under the NCR Transport Plan 2021, which was notified in September 2005. The Delhi to Ghaziabad section was to be taken up in 2001-11 with the Ghaziabad to Meerut scheduled 2011-21. In February 2006, the Committee on infrastructure gave approval for a feasibility study for the expressway. The decision to build the expressway was announced in the 2006 budget speech by then Finance Minister  Chidambaram. Construction of 1,000 km of expressways under National Highway Development Program (NHDP) Phase-VI was approved in November 2006. In December 2006, it was reported that 600 km of expressways would be chosen from among the proposed expressways including the Delhi-Meerut expressway for the first stage of NHDP Phase-VI on the basis of a prioritization study being taken up by the NHAI.

In April 2008, it was reported that proposals had been invited from consultants for deciding the alignment of the expressway. In November 2009, it was reported that the alignment study had been completed and a consultant had been appointed for the feasibility study for the project, with the expected completion of the study by May 2010. In August 2011, it was reported that the expressway was targeted for completion by December 2015.In October 2011, it was reported that the feasibility report was under progress and the project was to be taken up under NHDP Phase-VI. The alignment proposed was to be along NH-24 from Nizammuddin to Dasna and then to Meerut. In December 2011, the December 2015 targeted completion date was reaffirmed and the feasibility report submitted by the appointed consultant was said to be under study.

In May 2012, it was reported that the original target of awarding concession by 2009-10 was not completed due to various problems regarding alignment finalisation, and the consequent delay in feasibility reports. In July 2013, the Steering Group appointed by the Prime Minister to accelerate Infrastructure Investment decided on 15 March 2014 as the last date for awarding of contract for the expressway. In August 2013, it was reported that the expressway was targeted for the contemporary financial year. In November 2013, it was re-ported that the stretch from Delhi up to UP Gate was to be converted from six lanes to fourteen lanes with six lanes grade-sepa-rated exclusively for traffic moving towards Meerut. The stretch from UP Gate to Dasna was to be eight laned and a new six lane alignment was to come up from Dasna to Meerut bypass on NH-58. The project cost, including land acquisition, was estimated at ?6,450 crore (US$960 million).

On 18 November 2013, it was confirmed that Centre, not the Uttar Pradesh state government, would build the much delayed Delhi-Meerut Expressway starting from Nizamuddin Bridge on Ring Road. Once complete, commuters will be able to reach Meerut in 45 to 60 minutes and cut travel time to Haridwar and Dehradun by almost an hour.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) under the government of India Chaired by Prime minister Narendra Modi approved the Delhi-Meerut Expressway (4 laning) with construction of connected roads to be undertaken in july 2014. CCEA under PM Modi again approved the widening of these roads 8/6 laning in may 2016. There will be six- to eight-laning of NH 24 (Hapur bypass), six laning of NH 58 (Delhi-UP border), six-laning of NH 235 (Delhi-UP). The total cost is about `7,855.87 crore (US$1.2 billion).”  The deadline set for the project is three years. Construction of the Nizamuddin to Dasna road was scheduled to begin on 31 December 2015.

 

 

Project division

National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has divided the 96 km stretch starting from Nizamuddin bridge in the outer ring road in New Delhi to Meerut bypass into 4 packages:

Package I : Nizamuddin Bridge – Delhi-UP border

This section is 8.7 km long, 14 Lane (6 Lane Expressway, 8 Lane Normal Highway, 2.5 m Bicycle Track on Both Side) with 4 flyovers and 3 vehicle underpass. The project involves development of expressway from Nizamuddin Bridge (km-0.000) to existing Delhi-Uttar Pradesh Border (km-8.360) section of NH-24.

Development of Package I of Delhi-Meerut Expressway in length of 8.7 km in Delhi has been awarded to concessionaire Welspun Delhi Meerut Expressway Private Limited. Total project cost will be `841.50 crore (US$130 million). This phase of the expressway was inaugurated on May 27, 2018 by PM Narendra Modi.

Package II : Delhi-UP Border – Dasna

This section is 19.2 km long, 14 lane (6 lane expressway, 8 lane normal highway, 2.5 m bicycle track on both sides) with 13 vehicle underpasses and 6 foot-underpasses.

Tender goes to Apco Chetak(Apco Infratech Ltd is based in UP and Chetak Enterprises Ltd in Rajasthan), at a cost of `1,998 crore (US$300 million) (cost of shifting of transmission lines: `225 crore (US$34 million), cost of shifting water pipeline: `160 crore (US$24 million), 22,027 trees will be cut and `22 crore (US$3.3 million) compensation given to district forest department) The work is carried out under National Highways Development Project (NHDP) : Phase-VI.

A total nine underpasses and three flyovers are planned on the 20 km stretch to Dasna. But following a revision in the detailed project report, the plan was amended to 15 underpasses and a just one flyover, at Lal Kuan. The underpasses will be built in such a way that there is no criss-crossing traffic on the expressway and traffic flow at intersections will be altered accordingly.

Package III : Dasna – Hapur

This section is 22.2 km long, 8 lane normal highway, from existing km 27.500 to existing km 49.923 of NH 24.1 flyover and 12 underpass will be constructed on this segment. Previously it was 6 lane but in Sep-Oct 2016 board meeting it was updated to 8 lanes.

Contract has been awarded to Apco-Chetak (Apco Infratech Ltd is based in UP and Chetak Enterprises in Rajasthan), at a cost of `1,081 crore(US$160 million).

Package IV : Dasna – Meerut

46 km long, 6 lane expressway is a new greenfield alignment. This greenfield package requires land acquisition whose work is in progress. “As soon as govt. get 80% of the land, the tender will out”. Project will cost `3,588 crore (US$530 million)The alignment will be from Dasna in Ghaziabad district to Meerut Bypass at Partapur.

Earlier, the 45-km-long Ghaziabad to Meerut section of NH-58 was also part of project but due to the decision of Rapid Rail Transit System (RRTS) to use dividers on NH-58 for trains’ elevated corridor, the highway was not used and new alignment was proposed.

India’s First Hybrid 14-Lane Highway : Phase 1 Inaugrated

The Delhi-Meerut Expressway is a 14-lane national highway, which has been partially thrown open to commuters, by India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Reportedly the expressway cost more than `7,500 crores. Promising to cut travel time between Delhi and Meerut, it is an engineering marvel indeed.

This expressway will be the first with a dedicated 2.5 metre-wide cycle track on either side. One such dedicated 28 km long track will be between Delhi and Dasna.

The Delhi-Meerut Expressway will help decongest traffic in the National Capital Region. The project aims to provide faster and safer connectivity, between Delhi and Meerut, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Of its total length of 82 km, the first 27.74 kms will be 14-laned, while the rest will be a 6-lane highway. The Delhi-Meerut expressway will have eleven flyovers/interchanges, five major and 24 minor bridges, three rail over-bridges, 36 vehicular and 14 pedestrian underpasses, and an elevated section of 5.91 kms.

The Expressway will sport vertical gardensaimed at reducing pollution. Drip irrigation systems will water the plants on the expressway. A vertical gar-den has been made at the Yamuna Bridge, as a first. It also harvests rain-water.

It is a 100% access-controlled, signal-free national highway. It is smart and green, relying on solar power, and has been aimed to be sustainable in the long-run by reducing fuel and pollution.

The original estimate of project completion was 30 months, but the construction was completed in 18 months almost a year ahead of schedule.

Currently, it takes around 2.5 hours, to travel from Delhi to Meerut. Now, thanks to this expressway, that time will be reduced to 40 minutes. The expressway will do away with 31 signals that used to be on the Delhi-Meerut road.

The expressway is “smart”, as it has an intelligent traffic management system (HTMS), and video incident detection system (VIDS), and a closed tolling system, which collects toll amounts based on distance travelled, and not on the entire length of the expressway. Other safety features include Variable Message Signs, Weigh-in-Motion, Pavement Management Systems, Fiber Optic Network, warning devices, and real-time incident management.

Inauguration

Narendra Modi inaugurated the 14-lane Delhi-Meerut expressway on May 27, 2018. The expressway starts from Nizamuddin Bridge and ends at the Uttar Pradesh border.  Out of the 14 lanes, six lanes which run through the centre are dedicated for cars with four-lane highways on either sides for bikes, trucks and buses. The total length of the expressway is 8.716km. The expressway was jointly developed by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and Welspun Enterprises Ltd. The speed limit on the newly inaugurated expressway is 120kmph, compared to 100kmph speed limit on other national highways. The project was completed in 18 months against the scheduled time of 30 months. The expressway also features cycle tracks on both sides, vertical gardens, solar energy powered street lamps, CCTV cameras, advanced traffic management systems, replicas of monuments, and facility for drip water irrigation to save rain water. The Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Nitin Gadkari was also present during the inauguration ceremony.

Time Management

The Delhi-Meerut Expressway, which will have dedicated bicycle tracks on the nearly 28-km stretch between Delhi and Dasna, will cut travel time between Delhi and Meerut to 45 minutes from two-and-half hour now. The total length of the project is 82 km, of which the first 27.74 km will be 14-laned, while the rest will be 6-lane expressway. The expressway will do away with 31 traffic signals on the Delhi-Meerut road, the busiest highway in the region, and make it signal free. PM Modi had in December 2015 laid the foundation stone of the Delhi-Meerut Expressway to be built at a cost of `7,566 crore. The project is being built in four segments — Nizamuddin Bridge to UP Border, UP Border to Dasna, Dasna to Hapur and Hapur to Meerut. Besides, six-laning of 22 km long Dasna-Hapur section of NH 24 will cost `1,122 crore.

Use of smart technology

The 135-km-long Eastern Peripheral Expressway or EPE has been built in a record time of 17 months. Its foundation stone was laid by PM Modi in November 2015. It originates at Kundli and ends at Palwal. Kundli and Palwal are both in Haryana.

  1. India’s first smart and green highway

The Expressway is India’s first highway to be lit by solar power and has provisions of rain water harvesting on every 500 metres on both sides and would showcase 36 national monuments and 40 fountains, Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said, adding it has been completed in a record 500 days.

There are 8 solar power plants on this expressway having a capacity of 4000-kilo watt (4 MW).

Mr. Gadkari said 2.5 lakh trees have been planted along the highway.  “For plantation, drip irrigation has been used in the central median as well as for avenue plantation,” he said.

The interchanges have been developed architecturally with beautiful plantation merged with fountains and 28 fountains have been installed drip irrigation provision has been done, he added.

Also, a cycle track of 2.5 metre has been developed on both sides of the expressway.

  1. Intelligent highway traffic management system

The minister said it is equipped with smart and intelligent highway traffic management system (HTMS) and video incident detection system (VIDS) and will set a benchmark in highway construction by being environment-friendly with world-class safety features and smart / interactive infrastructure.

Over 11 lakh tonnes of cement, 1 lakh tonnes of steel, 3.6 crore cum earthwork and 1.2 cr cum fly-ash were used for the project, the minister said adding the project has generated employment opportunities of about 50 lakh man-days and 9,375 manpower was deployed here.

  1. Signal-free expressway

Eastern Peripheral Expressway envisages signal-free connectivity between Ghaziabad, Greater Noida, Faridabad and Palwal and will ultimately decongest the national capital. About two lakh vehicles, including trucks and commercial traffic, are expected to ply on the expressway without entering the national capital.

In order to have an uninterrupted travel experience and faster toll collection, the toll plazas will be provided with Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) system.

Eastern Peripheral Expressway will help divert at least 50,000 vehicles going to Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, bringing down vehicular pollution.

The alignment of EPE starts near Kundli and passes through six parliamentary constituencies, viz Sonepat, Baghpat, Ghaziabad, Noida, Faridabad and Palwal.

The fully access controlled six-lane expressway provides entry and exit designated interchanges only and has 406 structures of which 4 are major bridges, 46 minor bridges, 3 flyovers, 7 inter-changes, 221 underpasses and 8 road over bridges (ROBs).

The amenities include retail fuel outlets, rest rooms, motels, restaurants, shops etc. Some of the monuments’ replicas pertain to Ashoka Lion, Ashoka Chakra, Konark Temple, Jalianwala Bagh, Gateway of India, Qutab Minar, Char Minar, Lal Quila, Kirti Stambh, India Gate, Hawa Mahal and Gujarat Carving.

The project had earlier faced resistance from farmers over land and other issues which have since been solved by giving higher compensation.

The expressway will also consume a million tonnes of fly ash from NTPC’s various thermal plants, thus minimising pollution.

The project has also sparked possibilities for development of industrial and business sectors, and after its completion, will allow motorists to bypass Delhi for mutual transit to UP, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu & Kashmir

Unique features of Delhi-Meerut Expressway

The first phase of the Delhi-Meerut Expressway cost `842 crore on building the 9-km stretch of 14-lane highway, according to an advertisement released by the government on the project. The total cost of the project on completion would be `7,500 crore.

The Delhi-Meerut Expressway will cut travel time between Delhi and Meerut to 45 minutes from two-and-half hour now.

This is the first bridge in the country that have vertical gardens with solar power system and drip irrigation. Beautiful lighting system has also been developed on the major structures.

The total length of the project is 82 km, of which the first 27.74 kms will be 14-laned, while the rest will be a six-lane expressway.

A cycle track that is 2.5 metre wide, on the nearly 28-km stretch between Delhi and Dasna, has also been constructed on both the sides of this expressway, which also has provision of 1.5 metre footpath on each side for pedestrians.

The expressway will do away with 31 traffic signals on the Delhi-Meerut road, the busiest highway in the region, and make it signal free.

The scheduled time period for the construction of this project was 30 months whereas the project has been completed in 17 months.

The job is not done yet

Three phases of the six-lane expressway  UP border to Dasana, Dasana to Hapur and the greenfield phase from Dasana to Meerut  are yet to be completed. According to R.P Singh, project director at the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), of the Delhi-Meerut expressway, only 31% of the 82-km expressway has been constructed to date. “The first phase has been completed entirely. The second phase is 15% complete. While the second and third phases are at 60% and 3%  level of completion,” said Singh.

In effect, only 25.57 km, or 31%, of the total planned expressway was completed when Modi ‘dedicated’ the ‘built expressway’ to the nation, with nearly 69% of the work yet to be completed. A majority of the built expressway is part of phase 1 to 3, which entails lane expansions and service lane building. Phase 4, the only phase which is entirely greenfield, and also the longest phase of the expressway, is only 3% complete, with land acquisition hurdles pending.

“There are some small pockets where land acquisition is yet to be completed in phase 4,” Singh said.

Phase 4 of the Delhi-Meerut expressway has been caught in land acquisition hurdles in Ghaziabad district several times in the past. An administrative official aware of the land acquisition processes in Ghaziabad told The Wire that the process could still take some time. “There are still some issues with land acquisition. It could take some more months for that to be completed. Construction can only begin after that. I can’t tell you for sure when the process will be completed,” the official said.

Forward:

Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari has claimed that the project will be completed entirely by March 2019. However, a NHAI official, told that that deadline was unlikely to be met. “It is a very ambitious deadline. Certain parts of the project are making slow progress. We would like to finish it by March 2019′.

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1 COMMENT

  1. The proect has been executed in haste . The work is not upto the mark and there was no supervision by NHAI . The workmanship is very poor and the drainage has not been carried out as a result water logging is taking place whenever there is rain . The foot paths are so undulated that people can not walk comfortably. The sub- bays provided do not have adequate turning space and are accident prone . The traffic on bothsides of highway is so much the padestrians are finding it difficult to cross the road even at 7am . The bus stops provided are at higher level and do not have steps to climb up or get down to board the bus . This project has harmed the local residents safety , incraesed noise level by bringing in the traffic more closer to the societies, cut all existing trees and no replacement trees has been planted in the area . Mere planting few samplings on bridge fence will not restore the environment damaged by cutting trees of 20-30 years . Please do some solid tree plantation to restore environment in the area.

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