Whitefield Bridge begins three month-countdown

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The latest realistically estimated date for the opening of the Whitefield railway overbridge is June 1st 2010.

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On February 19th, a new contractor, Banashankari-based KPR Constructions took over the unfinished project. KPR Constructions, which takes on Railways contracts along with sister concern Balaji Builders, is headed by N Kumar, Managing Partner.

whitefield-steel-girder

A steel girder segment at the Kadugodi yard next the Whitefield Railway Station
has been painted as part of readying for launch. Pic: Subramaniam Vincent.

Speaking to Citizen Matters from Hubli on the telephone, Vijay Kumar, Chief Administrative Officer, South Western Railway, said the bridge will be ready "in April". Another top official at the South Western Railway, Bangalore, aggressively set the launch date as April 15th. This official requested that he not be named.

As earlier reporting has shown, estimates for the completion of this project have proved wrong each time. Kumar of KPR was more realistic than the Railways officials in his assessment. He first estimated May 2nd week, and moved that cautiously to June 1st in a second conversation. 

The good news is that the scene at the Kadugodi yard next to the Whitefield Railway Station comes as a pleasant surprise to anyone even remotely familiar with the crisis that brought work to dead halt last year. The 42 metre steel girder is being assembled here. From a silent, almost dead yard with the massive steel girder segments lying around, the place now has a loud, clanking buzz with workers moving around and KPR engineers and as well junior Railways engineers walking around.

Such is the delight the restarting of work has created in commuters, that a Citizen Matters reader Sudipto Bose wrote this on February 22nd after visiting the yard: "Yes, they are working on the girders that have been made by Soham. I see that the work area has been cleaned, the girders now have some serial numbers. They have removed the covering in front and have a temporary genset for the welding power supply".

Bose did not stop there. "I think we should still do some movement with children – like carry lunch/flowers and hand them over to the workers from KPR. Make them conscious of the responsibility. Sounds crazy?" he signed off.

whitefield-bridge-welding

This sort of action was missing for several months at the yard, and many
commuters who take a brunt of the traffic gridlock every day are now hoping
to see the bridge launch soon. Pic: Subramaniam Vincent

Some of the reddish girder segments, built long ago by the previous contractor before that firm ran into a financial crisis, are now being sandblasted and painted in grey colour at the yard.

Kumar confirms that when KPR took over, welding issues (at the over 150 joints on the girder) remained and claims that his firm is fixing them. A team from the Welding Research Institute (WRI) in Trichy has already visited and is expected to give their report this week, he says, confident of getting their approvals.

Citizen Matters could not independently confirm the status with WRI at the time this report went live. Kumar says he is targeting the girder installation across the 6-track 42-metre span for the end of March and completion of the two ramps (roads leading up the girder) in April. "We are under pressure to finish on time, and are spending money on our own", he says. He also confirms that Aravind Limbavali (BJP MLA, Mahadevapura) and Minister of State in the Central Government for Railways K H Muniyappa have been pressing for this project to be finished.

In December 2009, SW Railway had terminated the earlier contract with Soham Engineering Constructions, the Hyderabad-based firm that had been struggling to complete the bridge. A new tender was floated the same month for Rs 2.8 crores, which the Railways awarded to KPR last month. The contract has been tendered in a mode where the Railways are going to pay only after project is finished, so KPR is now shelling out funds to finish the project.

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25 Comments

  1. Thanks for following up, Subbu! Do not want to pester the KPR folks on a regular basis, but do we know the current estimated date of completion of the bridge?

  2. A new chief engineer G P Costa has taken over from the previous person T Kalimuthu who was transferred to Salem. I just spoke to him (it took me extra attempts to get his number).

    Costa says that he visits the site once a week (Thursdays) and they did not take the decision to open the LC since it was unsafe. I then told him that KPR told us that his firm is ok with the LC being opened because the part of the work that required the LC to be closed was over, at least for now.

    After listening to me about the nightmares people are having at the Channasandra line and the Hoodi lines, Costa agreed to ‘look into’ re-opening the LC during the morning peak hours and evening. I told him I will call him up two days from how.

    Those of you who wish to call the Chief Engineer, Railways CAO Vijay Kumar (Above the Chief Engineer) KPR’s Kumar, and Traffic Police, please send an email to editors@citizenmatters.in.

    Best to call over the next two days so that the CE takes a smart decision.

  3. i’m concerned on the delay to open up the LC, esp since the bridge does not look in any shape to open up soon. Once the schools start in a month, it is going to be crazy with the LC closed. We may need to talk to the concerned Railway folks to convince them to open up the LC.

  4. Just curious to know if any work is happening at all now or it has again come to a stand still.
    Aug-Sep finish is defintely acceptable as long as it is this year 🙂

  5. June-july seems to be very unlikely technically.
    Aug-sep may be a reasonable target.
    Railways seems to be in no mood to open the gate. Their trains are getting good signal clearance and reaching majestic on time. So I really doubt if they will open the crossing.

  6. This is good news but do I doubt the bridge will open by June 1. Anyhow lets hope we the bridge will open soon

  7. Great news, Subbu! BTW, do we know if they are on track to finish by June 1st week? With the current status of the work, does not look like they will be able to finish on time. Even the monsoon which will start later next month might further delay the work.

    Thanks
    Satish

  8. Quick update: KPR’s Kumar says the girder milestone they were waiting for has been completed – they have sent a message to the Rlways to open the LC.

    Railways now has to inform traffic police et al and then open the LC. Kumar says it will open by Sat Apr 24 afteroon. History has not borne this out, it might happen Sunday or Monday.

  9. That’s an excellent point. Currently, to come till the railway station from Safal, we need to rely on a bus service that is not too consistent. This would definitely be a good news.

  10. Now it is expected that Railway Overbridge at Kadugodi will be completed soon. It is the time to think about extension of Volvo bus service at least upto Safal Market as lot of residential layout are upcoming in this stretch. Kadugodi bus stand can be relocated somewhere near Safal Market where the land prices are definitely cheaper as compared to the existing location of bus stand.
    If the service is extended beyond Kadugodi Depot / Stand It would be beneficial for the resident who will use the buses more which will also generate more revenue for BMTC

  11. I somehow feel the railways playing foul here. For those who commute by bus it had become a virtual nightmare since the LC has closed. The railways are taking advantage of the closed LC and the goods trains are blocking the pathway. People are trying to go under the trains in order to cross.
    Subbu,
    Do you want to meet sometime this weekend and talk to the station master at whitefield so that at least the poor bus commuters and pedestrians get some breather.

  12. It’s now over 20 days since the railway crossing at Kadugodi is closed. As per earlier conversation in this thread, the KPR Constructions were supposed to open the gate, last week. It’s a daily ordeal to cross through the Channasandra crossing. That road is not equipped to handle so much traffic.

    Is there any further update on opening of the gate. Can somebody share the contact details of KPR guys. We need to have a conversation with them.

  13. Atlast, respite…I have bought a flat in Whitefield opp. to 10 Downing…Now I can heave a sigh of relief since I don’t have to worry about people bumping my car in the LC. Also, the FOB on Whitefield LC would be the icing on the cake. It is better than crossing the LC to the other side to board Chennai trains.

  14. I meant to put this in yesterday and missed it.

    KPR’s Kumar told me last night that they are on track to finish the second girder by Friday night. So, the LC will be opened by Saturday, according to him.

    As always, even though this contractor has been working away, please take all date committments with a pinch of salt. As long nothing surprising comes in the way, it should open!

  15. Thanks a lot Mr. Subramaniam for continuously following up on this issue. The second girder seems to be up now; does it mean that the LC can be opened in a few days?

  16. Subbu,
    First, let me thank you for setting up the communication channel with KPR. Really helps.
    I can relay the feedback of the residents of Golden Blossom and a few people I know in Samarpan. The LC being open is any days a better option than the FCI route. The FCI route cannot really take the truck/bus and the 4 wheeler traffic the way the turn near the other LC is. The “bigger” issue is the folks who commute by bus now face a lot of trouble to come to this side. With the LC closed the goods train now block the way for a long time and you will see the pedestrians trying to cross around or sometimes below the stationary train.
    I believe that KPR should try to complete the second girder hoisting work and open the LC. The rest of the work can happen in parallel.

  17. Sudipto and others, I know people have been worried about when the LC will open again because originally we were told it was going to be six days.

    KPR’s Kumar told me today that it was delayed because they prefer to finish off the installation of the second girder also, and then opening up the LC. He says they will have finished the second girder by next Sat. (None of these are dates are hard ones, as we know.)

    Kumar says he is going to assess by Wednesday Apr 7th evening and let us know. If the second girder is going to be further delayed, he is open to discussing with the Railways and opening up the LC for two/three days and closing it when they are about to launch.

    He is asking me for what citizens want. I told him I will relay citizen feedback on Wednesday evening when I call him next. Please check with others and post your comments, if any here.

    And yes, once the bridge is finished and operational, as per the contract, the LC will be closed permanently.

  18. At least the work has started after months of inactivity.
    Although the travel is a bit harrowing, but hopefully not for long.Thanks to citizenmatters for campaigning this issue.

    But then whenever I see the number of newly constructed or under construction apts in that area, I wonder, will the newly constructed flyover be able to meet the traffic load?

  19. Subbu,
    I walked up to the shed last night and talked to one of the supervisors. Wanted to know how long the level crossing would be closed. I got a different and interesting story. He said that the LC is closed for good. The commute in that route will only start once the bridge is really complete. He added that there will be footbridge connecting the bustand to the other side and that the platforms of whitefield station will be extended to the point where the LC is there right now.
    The Bridge in his estimate is May end/June for deployment.

    I however agree that it does not make sense to keep this LC closed for more than a week or so. They have to put one more girder ; after which they can do the slabbing job with the LC open. This is also something that the person explained. He said that the majority work after the joint riveting is laying the slabs between the girder.

    Maybe we should talk to the SM and MD of KPR to open the LC once the second girder is up.

  20. I saw today that they have place one full length of girder already.
    good progress. But the road construction is not progressing as fast.

  21. I spoke to Kumar, MD of KPR/Balaji. He says they have asked for 6-days of closure to launch the girder which will start tomorrow midnight.

    In reality he says morning traffic will be blocked for the first two days of the 6-days and after that for peak hours they will open the line.

    During blockage, the Channasandra RoadHope Farm is the alternative route.

  22. Saw a notice that the railway crossing will be closed from 25th March. No mention of duration though. The sandblasting looks complete. The props in the middle are complete. The heavy duty Crane is there. Last suffering before salvation 😉

  23. Great Reporting.
    Major credit goes to Citizen matters for following this up so closely.
    It will be a great relief if the bridge opens in june.

Comments are closed.