Mangaluru, June 28, 2018: A special bridge inspection vehicle, which is currently stationed in Belagavi, is set to arrive in the city, to help conduct a survey of all bridges across DK district. This follows the collapse of the Mullarapatna bridge in Mangaluru taluk.
However, going by the ground situation of the bridges in Mangaluru taluk, none of them seem to be in a good condition, since they are all close to areas where illegal sand mining is taking place. Several bridges are facing a threat of collapse, similar to the fate that befell the Mullarpatna bridge. According to environmental activists, the bridges built across major rivers have borne the brunt of illegal sand mining, due to which their foundation has weakened over the years.
One of the oldest bridges built in 1923, across the Phalguni river—Gurupura bridge—is a first concern of officials. This bridge, on the Nanthoor-Moodbidri-Karkala National Highway-169, connecting Mangaluru and Shivamogga, which is 17 km away from city, is in a sorry state, with motorists fearing that the bridge may collapse any time, unless corrective measures are taken.
If one visits the bridge, one can find that it is poorly maintained, with a thick undergrowth of shrubs, and accumulation of silt at its bottom. The narrow bridge cannot bear the burden of vehicles moving over it. Locals and daily commuters say that only one bus or truck can pass over the Gurupura bridge at a time.
“If two buses try to pass over the bridge, it leads to a traffic jam, which causes inconvenience to commuters. There is not enough space near the bridge to reverse or park vehicles, in case of a traffic jam, due to it being too narrow. I have been stuck several times on the bridge, and on some occasions for at least an hour,” said a daily commuter.
If one takes a close look at the bridge, one can notice that the iron railings which used to be on it have vanished. Locals allege that no maintenance of the bridge was undertaken over the years, and that potholes can be seen on it.
Another bridge which needs immediate attention is the 45-year-old Polali bridge built across the Phalguni river. According to locals, the pillars of the bridge have been weakened due to rampant sand mining, both upstream and downstream of the river. The damage is visible during summer, when the water level goes down. They also blame the illegal use of dredging machines for the damage caused to the bridge.
PWD superintendent engineer Kantharaj said under his jurisdiction there are about 24 bridges which are more than 60-metres-long, which will be inspected in the coming days, except for their foundations, since there is heavy water flow in all rivers and streams across the district.
Gurpur bridge work soon: NHAI
With roadblocks for the expansion of four-laning of NH-169, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has planned to undertake construction of a bridge adjacent to the Gurupura bridge, after directions from Nalin Kumar Kateel, MP, Dakshina Kannada,
NHAI executive engineer S Holla said the current bridge is too small as well as old, and that construction of a new bridge will commence on a priority. He added that an expert team from Bengaluru visited the bridge, to check its condition. If all goes well, work will commence after the monsoon, he said.
According to sources, a recent survey of the bridge was conducted, which reported that though the bridge is safe, its girders have weakened.