Whitefield Bridge begins three month-countdown

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. Though the Hindu article says, another 4 months to complete the work I see the same the other way. The photgraph shown in the article dated back about 2 months, when the KPR guys were putting the gurders.

    Though the work is progressing at snail’s speed, I see we can have the bridge ready before the Independence Day.Let us be bit optimistic.

  2. article in THE HINDU on Saturday – June 12 about the bridge:

    Please note the Engineer says 4 MONTHS now… as quoted by the writer.

    A bridge too far?

    K. C. Deepika

    The long wait has only got longer. Commuters who use the Kadugodi-Whitefield railway junction were hanging by the thread of hope that the bridge connecting Whitefield and Hoskote would obviate arduous detours and long waits at the railway crossing. The bridge was to have been completed by the first quarter of 2009 but there are little signs of any progress.

    Regime change

    Work came to a standstill three months ago as the Hyderabad-based Soham Engineering Constructions, the contractor entrusted with the construction work by the Railways and the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), pulled out citing funds shortage.

    A new contractor, KPR Constructions, which took over, also was unable to meet the fresh deadline of May 31, 2010.

    Work seems to be progressing at a snail’s pace. When The Hindu visited the site, there were just a handful of workers. To add to the confusion, the contractor and the Railways are speaking in different voices regarding the “new” deadline.

    Giving the reason for the delay, S. Vijay Kumaran, Chief Administrative Officer-Construction, South Western Railway, said: “This bridge requires high-quality steel and the fabrication is complicated. But it will be ready in a month.”

    On the other hand, Abhilash Chandran, Project Engineer from KPR, suggested it will be ready only in four months’ time.

    More article here:

    http://beta.thehindu.com/news/cities/Bangalore/article453716.ece

  3. I finally got to talk to Akhil Agarwal, Divisional Railway Manager today. He called back after my repeated attempts to reach him. I told him KPR was ok with the LC being opened, and was going to ask for a time – for residents of Chaithanya Samarpan, Golden Gate Appartments, et al, to meet him.

    He cut me short said that merely because the contractor (KPR/Balaji) is OK with the LC being opened does not mean that the Railways must open it. The responsibility for safety while work is going on lies with the Railways and not the contractor — that is the reason behind the LC shutdown through the last phase of the project.

    Having heard my over-dramatic description of the nightmarish situations at Channasandra and Hoodi crossings during peak hours, he said he was going to talk to the CAO (another top official) and get back to me if something can be done.

    He seemed serious, so I expect a callback. I will call again on Thurs/Fri if he does not.

  4. Hi all, Do the latest developements mean: 1.) Railway LC at Whitefield is permanently closed and hence is it safe to assume that once the OverBridge is operational as per our estimates, only LMV and School Buses will be allowed to use the overbridge? In that case where will trucks and other heavy vehicle go to Kannamangala from? Will they continue to use the current temporary arrangement? I am new to the area and I think this site is a perfect example of how effective a people’s initiative can be . Kudos to all participants of the discussion. Thanks, Amit

  5. Had a chat with a couple of engineers from Balaji yesterday. They are expecting to complete the bridge by July end. They said they will start laying the concrete over the steel structure in a week’s time. once the concrete is laid, the curing will take about 3 weeks. After that they’ll start asphalting the road.

  6. 2-3 months. This is my estimate. Also, some information from local autowalas.

  7. Narayanan,
    Just curious. Did you mean to say 2-3 weeks or 2-3 months. Either way, it is OK as long as it gets done this year.

    Thanks,
    Venki

  8. The bridge is progressing well. Another 2, 3 they will open I guess. the main part left now is concreting above the girder and side wall completion in asharam side.

    Laying the road is not major work I think.

    i don’t railways can be moved by anything other than a powerful politician influence. So, best is to be patient and wait. 🙁

  9. How about the suggestion of a signature campaign? That will probably show how many people are affected daily due to closure of the gate permanently.

  10. Thanks Subbu for another lead, yet again… Being Sat, suggest we all call corporator and sensitise the gravity of this issue.
    Let them wake up and realise this pain we are going thru’

  11. I am placing below the Kadugodi ward corporator contacts.

    Kadugodi Ward Corporator
    K N Anjaneya Reddy
    98450 08072
    080 28452102

  12. I think we could even go to some of the TV channels and Newspaper coverage. I see News 9 doing a lot of similar stories.

  13. I called Akil Agawal’s office and I was given the number of Sr DM Office number-22873383, when I called that number I was given another numner of Mr Mohanan- 9731666201, and he said he is not the right person and so on…
    I am not sure we will have any releif by talking to Railway officials. The approach can be through Political or local carporator representation and or some siganute campaign

  14. Please call Akhil Agarwal, the Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Bangalore. His office issued the order to shutdown the LC, according to the Railways own Chief Engineer (construction).

    Akhil Agarwal
    080 22871498
    drmsbc@swr.railnet.gov.in

    Citizen Matters has not been able to reach him for sometime now. We will keep trying and post updates here as soon I can get something.

    It’s best citizens – those impacted – call the DRM’s office during the day and enquire about why the LC is being shutdown permanently two months ahead of time, when the contractor KPR himself is Ok with it being open while the rest of the work completes.

  15. So does anyone know whether the railway crossing is going to be opened or is the plan to permanently keep it closed.

    Also is there any idea when the flyover will be open.

    As mentioned by many people here, once the school starts it is going to be a nightmare for the kids since the buses will have to take a circular route. Also the general public also finds it difficult because the roundabout route is bit long and roads are narrow.

  16. So does anyone know whether the railway crossing is going to be opened or is the plan to permanently keep it closed.

    Also is there any idea when the flyover will be open.

    As mentioned by many people here, once the school starts it is going to be a nightmare for the kids since the buses will have to take a circular route. Also the general public also finds it difficult because the roundabout route is bit long and roads are narrow.

  17. I don’t agree with this. The SWR opening/maintaining the LC and the construction work are done by two separate entities (1st by SWR and the 2nd by KPR). SWR is in no way related to completion of the ROB as of now, as KPR is in charge of completion. They might pitch in to do all the checks, etc.
    Repairing of the alternate roads is by no means going to happen any time soon. Even getting tenders done itself is a time consuming affair and then the implementation.

  18. As I am writing this, they are already welding members perpendicular to the main beams.
    Better not give SWR one more chance to delay the ROB by opening LC!
    Rather, let us push for repairing of the alternative road – through Kadugodi, Kumbhena Agrahara, Sadaramangala, Hudi – and split the traffic.

  19. Can you please let us know what you should do to put a strong representation in front of DRM to open the LC until bridge is not complete.

  20. The railways are playing foul here. I guess they are waiting for someone to die while crossing the lines in front of the bus stand.
    Subbu,
    We can do a signature campaign and even talk to the local councilor if needed. I can get signatures from Golden Blossom.

  21. Oh boy! How do we go about this? Do we do a signature campaign or something? Since the bridge itself is getting delayed, we badly need to open the LC at the earliest. Especially once the monsoon rains start, I doubt they would be able to get it done in the time frame.

    As a side effect of the LC closure, Deens has decided to run the school bus earlier than last year (last year ~7:30AM) since the traffic on the Channasandra road has increased.

  22. There is some serious bad news I discovered yesterday evening. After talking to me last week, the Chief Engineer Costa had issued a letter last week to reopen the LC. He was going to send a copy to the Whitefield station manager Naickam (on the latter’s insistence).

    Costa then ‘found out’ that the Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) Akhil Agarwal had already issued an order to permanently shutdown the LC and that is why his letter is not going to be honoured, he says.

    The DRM is the head of SW Railway’s Bangalore division, and he is above the Chief Engineer (who is overseeing bridge construction on the Railways’ side) on these matters.

    The LC was going to be permanently shut down anyway, but this was only supposed to happen when the bridge was complete.

    My office is trying to reach the DRM to ascertain how ‘hard’ this order is, but Agarwal is out till 14th.

    Very likely, a strong representation is going to be needed from citizens to revoke the LC shutdown. I will post some phone numbers here tonite.

    QUICK UPDATE ON THE BRIDGE STATUS

    Railways has pushed their informal estimate to end of July.

  23. Subbu, any updates on whether the new chief engineer has taken a decision to open the LC?

  24. The most recent estimated date of completion is June 15 from KPR’s Kumar. He said on Friday May 7th that there was a ‘delay’ because “they were waiting for some material to come, which had come finally”.

    Kumar says the main work pending is the concrete segment over the girders and curing time (about 15 days). Asphalting the ramps is only two-three process, he maintains.

    My sense is that June 15 is a push. Any date is worth talking about only AFTER we have seen the concrete being laid over the girder.

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