‘Expedite work’ along Gokhale Bridge: Citizens file online plea

MANY RESIDENTS have initiated an online petition, urging the railway and civic authorities to expedite the ongoing repair and reconstruction work along the Gopal Krishna Gokhale Bridge in Andheri and complete it at the earliest, after the bridge was shut down on Monday.

The traffic on the bridge is likely to start ahead of the 2023 monsoon.

The Lokhandwala Oshiwara Citizen’s Association (LOCA) launched an online signature campaign on Sunday (November 6) evening and till Monday (November 7) afternoon, and nearly 1,798 residents from Andheri and Lokhandwala have signed the petition for expediting the work.

Dhaval Shah, a petitioner and co-founder of LOCA, said that more than 8,000 people have viewed the petition and 612 people have shared it across various platforms in the past 24 hours.

“The primary objective of the petition is to ensure that the authorities understand the importance of the project. Andheri is an education and commercial hub in the western suburbs, and there are dozens of schools and junior colleges, as well as industrial sectors. As the bridge has been shut, school buses will have to take a different route some two to five kilometres away. There is no nearby bridge that permits heavy vehicles… BMC needs to complete the bridge on war-footing so that vehicular movement could start there ahead of 2023 monsoon, otherwise commuting would be difficult as the suggested alternative routes like Andheri Subway and Milan Subway get severely waterlogged every monsoon,” Shah said on Monday.

Another citizen’s group from Andheri (East), meanwhile, has written to the Municipal Commissioner, urging him to propose the railway authorities to at least allow the south-bound railway footbridge at Andheri railway station accessible to school and college goers. Residents will not be allowed to use the railway footbridge without a valid ticket. “Also, the tender for the reconstruction of the Gokhale Bridge will be provided with a hefty bonus for the completion of the construction of the bridge within the next six months,” said Nicholas Almeida, a member of Watchdog Foundation.

On November 1, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had written to the Mumbai traffic police, seeking suggestions on alternative routes owing to the closure of the bridge — a primary link that connects Andheri (East) and Andheri (West); following which the traffic department had suggested the Balasaheb Thackeray Flyover in Jogeshwari, Milan Subway in Santacruz, and Mrinaltai Gore Flyover as the possible alternatives. The routes — east-west connectors — will, however, cause commuters to travel an additional two to five kilometres daily.

The civic officials, meanwhile, have maintained that two lanes along the bridge be opened within the next six months to ensure smooth traffic.

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