Kochi: Motorists here may have wait for another year to make use of a sturdy and safe flyover at Palarivattom to overcome the current traffic bottlenecks in the heart of Kerala's commercial city. Even as the Kerala High Court has barred the demolition of the faulty Palarivattom flyover for the time being, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is hopeful of rectifying its structural flaws within nine months once the relevant nod is received.
The Kerala government had earlier decided to hand over the rebuilding works of the Palarivattom flyover to the DMRC based on a report submitted by an expert team led by the latter's principal adviser E Sreedharan.
The DMRC authorities stated they would complete the works to bolster the existing bridge within nine months if awarded the contract. The procedures for inviting tenders would be initiated soon.
The pier caps of the weak bridge have to be strengthened and the 102 girders have to be replaced. Five expansion joints would be needed to connect the girders on the bridge and the other parts by adopting the deck continuity technology which ensures that there won't be separate joints between the spans.
Cracks had developed on the bridge due to the faults in construction earlier. Though the defects were spotted earlier itself, the Road and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala (RBDCK) had delayed the maintenance works, seeking an expert study.
The construction of the bridge was completed in 2016, but it was shut for traffic from May 1, 2019 after various agencies pointed out that the cracks on the girders and other inadequacies in the construction.
Though the first round of maintenance works suggested by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, was carried out, the state government-appointed expert panel had recommended a new bridge in its place. The panel pointed out that the lifespan of the bridge would be 100 years if rebuild anew, while maintenance works can only ensure that the flyover would last for 20 years.
The state government has also decided to levy the expenses for rebuilding the Palarivattom flyover from the construction firm, RDS Projects.
Last month the Kerala High Court had barred the demolition of the bridge as the government wanted after considering a few public interest litigations filed against the drastic move. The pleas laid stress on the fact that the demolition was ordered without conducting a load test of the structure.
An engineers' association too had sought the government to back off from the decision to demolish the bridge. It also alleged that Sreedharan had erred while reporting that the bridge was structurally weak as he had not even conducted the mandatory checks.