Palakkad: The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) authorities closed the first tunnel of the Kuthiran twin-tube tunnels on NH 544 to carry out gantry concreting works. Authorities have deviated the traffic through the second tunnel towards the Palakkad side in both directions. It is believed the gantry concreting of 30-inch-thick concrete with arched steel bars will begin soon. Vehicles coming from the Palakkad side are currently being blocked on the over-bridge near the Villanvalavu. From there, vehicles have to enter the second tunnel (towards Palakkad) through the second bridge. As soon as the vehicles cross the second tunnel, traffic will be changed to six lanes again.
It is understood that the tunnel will be closed for at least four months to carry out the gantry concreting works. The Kuthiran twin-tube tunnel is one of the longest tunnels in South India. The work of the tunnels constructed with the hope of smooth traffic through the Kuthiran Hills, which are part of the Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary, was started in 2016 by NHAI. The first tunnel 955 metres long towards Thrissur was opened on July 31, 2021. But, there were reports that the tunnel was opened for traffic even before the entire work was completed. Questions had arisen about the safety of the tunnel as it experienced massive leakages during the rainy season. The second tunnel towards Palakkad with a length of 944 metres was opened on January 20, 2022.