Thrissur: Traffic to and fro through the first Kuthiran Tunnel has commenced from Thursday morning as an interim measure. This arrangement has been made to facilitate the construction of the second tunnel which is due to open next year.
The second road tunnel will be constructed after demolishing the existing hill road in Kuthiran which was so far being used by vehicles heading towards the Palakkad side. This road will be razed only after a trial run to both sides for 2 to 3 days and this commenced from 8 am on Thursday on the left tunnel towards the Thrissur side.
One-way traffic was being allowed on this left tunnel from July 31.
The twin tunnel is on the National Highway 544 along the Mannuthy–Vadakkancherry section between Thrissur and Palakkad districts in Kerala.
The trial run is taking place after a joint inspection by different departments. The trial will enable the authorities to understand the difficulties that could arise from the new arrangement.
The preparations for the trial run are complete and a police control room has been opened.
Barricades are placed for almost 3 kilometres inside and outside the tunnel. Two cranes and two ambulances are on standby near the entrance of the tunnel.
Vehicles will be heavily fined if they run out of fuel and halt in the tunnel, the police informed.
The second tunnel is expected to open by end of March 2022.
The left tunnel was thrown open to traffic by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) on July 31. While vehicles were earlier trapped in traffic blocks lasting several hours in the Kuthiran Hill, they can now cover the distance in less than one minute through the tunnel underneath. The 964-m tunnel could be covered in less than a minute by travelling at 60 kmph.
Facilities inside the tunnel include 500 lights, 10 cameras, blowers to remove foul air, wireless phones at five spots, fire-fighting equipment at 10 places and 24-hour control room.
After vehicles were allowed along one section of the double barrel tunnel, there has been a considerable saving of travel time on the Coimbatore-Kochi route.
Authorities had said that after the second tunnel is ready, vehicles would be diverted to that tunnel and concreting of the first tunnel that is open now would be finished.