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Heavy vehicles diverted to Don bridge

Staff Correspondent

Bypass road closed because of flash floods; drainage system damaged



RISKY VENTURE: A steel coil-laden heavy goods carrier passing through dilapidated Don Bridge on National Highway 13, about 15 km from Bijapur.

BIJAPUR: The diversion road of National Highway 13 near Hitnalli has been closed after flash floods in the Don damaged its cross drainage structure. This has increased traffic on the dilapidated bridge across the river.

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) spent Rs. 2.5 crore to strengthen the 203-metre bridge in 2002-03. But it has fallen short of expectation in improving its serviceability.

The maximum load bearing capacity of the bridge was calculated at 35 tonnes. Subsequently on the recommendation of NHAI, the District Magistrate (Deputy Commissioner) banned vehicles that carry more than 35 tonnes of load from the entering the bridge. For the passage of heavy vehicles, a low-level diversion road was built bypassing the bridge. For three days now, the diversion road (bypass) has been closed because of floods.

Although the velocity of water flow is not much, it started overflowing on the road as all the sluices of cross drainage structure have been blocked. This caused erosion of embankments at both ends of the cross drainage. What has caused concern to the NHAI officials is that the number of heavy vehicles especially those transporting steel coils and bars, and iron ore between Bellary and Mumbai — weighing not less than 60 tonnes — are now using dilapidated bridge. Even after three days, the Department of Transport has not taken steps to curb the movement of heavy vehicles on the weakened bridge, sources said.

A senior official in the Regional Transport Office here told The Hindu that movement of heavy vehicles has been banned. Earlier, the steel carrying multi-axle vehicles used to carry three to four coils, each weighing 20 tonnes. There were complaints from officials concerned that the asphalt of the highway was being destroyed because of this. After the rainy season, the steel carriers were asked not to load more than two steel coils (on a vehicle).

According to a highway maintenance engineer, the weight of a goods carrier even with only two such coils far exceeds the sustainable limit of the Don bridge. If something happens to the bridge, the National Highway 13, a vital surface transport link between southern and northern parts of the country collapses, and the damage can be just unimaginable. The proposal for four-lane bridge is still under investigation stage, and may take not lessthan five years to realise. Till then, it is important to keep the bridge intact. For this, the ban has to be implemented strictly, he added.

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