Western Railways finds sub-structure to be ‘sound’, reconstruction of Ferrer ROB to take six months

Iram Siddique
The WR in coordination with the traffic police, banned the movement of heavy vehicles on the bridge, which included BEST buses.

IN WHAT may bring relief to motorists, the Western Railway (WR) is likely complete the reconstruction of the British-era Ferrer road overbridge (ROB) at Grant Road within the next six months. The duration of work, earlier estimated to take around 18 months as the bridge had to be rebuilt from scratch, was reduced as the sub-structure of the bridge, essentially two columns on which the deck rests, was found to be in a “sound” condition.

The bridge, built in 1921, provided connectivity to the present-day Nana Chowk on the west side of Grant Road station to Maulana Shaukat Ali Road on the east. It soon came under scrutiny in September 2018 after cracks developed on its deck. What followed was a structural audit by IIT Bombay, after which a detailed instrumentation test showed that the girders holding the bridge were heavily corroded and needed immediate repairs.

Soon after, the WR in coordination with the traffic police, banned the movement of heavy vehicles on the bridge, which included BEST buses. A height gauge was installed to prohibit such vehicles. However, in a recent inspection by the WR, it came to light that the columns, also known as abutments of the bridge, were in a good condition and did not need to be replaced.

A senior official from the WR said, “We decided to take up the reconstruction work of the deck for which a tender has already been floated; it will be finalised by the end of this month and work is set to start early next month and completed within six months.”

A contractor will be appointed for the demolition of the deck, who will also carry out the reconstruction based on the scheme prepared by the bridges department of the WR. The bridge — 12-metre wide and has a span of 24 m — had heavy vehicular movement on its four-lane carriageway.

During the inspection of the ROBs across Mumbai by IIT Bombay, it was found that footpaths along the bridge were layered with paver blocks, which have a coating of sand under it. The sand allows water to seep in, making it a major reason behind corrosion of steel structures.

“Taking all findings into account, the deck will be designed with a slight slope whereas the walkways along it will be layered with mastic asphalt, which will prevent water from percolating,” an official said.

The Ferrer ROB was one of the five British-era bridges that had to be rebuilt. The other bridges include Belasis in Mumbai (Central), Tilak bridge in Dadar, Carol bridge in Prabhadevi and Mahalaxmi bridge.

Ravindar Bhakar, chief public relations officer of the WR, said, “The height of the road will also be raised by around 70 cm while laying the girders. The remaining four bridges have been handed over to the MRIDC (Maharashtra Rail Infrastructure Development Corporation).”