Mangaluru, Feb 16, 2018: Motorists passing over the bridge built over river Phalguni on NH-169 keep their hearts in their mouths as they fear the 95-year-old bridge, which is in a dilapidated state, may collapse at any time.
The 170-metre-long and 5.10 metre-wide bridge connecting Kulshekar and Moodbidri was built in 1923. Chunks of cement from under the bridge are falling into the river, and corroded rods are a common sight on the bridge. To make things worse, the motorable side of the bridge is also deteriorating.
However, officials say only the surface of the bridge has worn out, and that it is safe for commuting. They say the bridge can be maintained by carrying out general maintenance, and they are not considering giving the bridge a facelift. However, a new bridge will be built parallel to the existing one.
“A proposal has been sent to the government for a new bridge. We are hopeful that the proposal will get clearance in the next financial year. Once that happens, we will begin the work,” said Yeshwanth, assistant executive engineer, National Highway sub division.
He said the existing bridge cannot be widened as it is made of steel and dates back to almost a century ago. “Building a new bridge is more economically viable,” he said, adding that once the new bridge is built, the existing one will be closed. However, the proposal for a new bridge is a long pending assurance by the government and officials.
Sudhakar Poonja, who has been spearheading the cause for a permanent solution on this stretch, said he met all the leaders concerned, and submitted numerous memoranda. However, no action has been taken till date.
“The government has been promising a new bridge since 2010. However, nothing concrete has been done on the ground. The capacity of the bridge is just about 10 tonnes. However, there are trucks transporting more than 40 tonnes on a daily basis. The density of vehicles on the bridge is 20,000 passenger car units. Now, the government has also sanctioned KSRTC buses to Karkala plying through this stretch. This is further going to dampen the prospects of the bridge,” he said.