In the Fast Lane: Upcoming expressway projects

Upcoming expressway projects

The development of expressways has been a key priority area for a long time now. The past two to three years have seen a lot of activity in terms of award and completion of ex­press­ways across the country. A few months ago, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) announced its plan to develop 22 ex­pre­ss­ways spanning about 7,800 km at an invest­ment of Rs 3.3 trillion by March 2025.

As of August 5, 2021, five greenfield ex­pre­ss­ways and 17 access-controlled highways covering a length of 8,142 km have been envisag­ed for development under Phase I of the Bha­rat­­mala Pariyojana. Of these, expressways span­ning a length of 1,025 km have been completed, while work on 1,242 km of expressways is under way and work on stretches spanning 726 km has been awarded. The remaining leng­th is at different stages such as bidding and DPR preparation.

Several big-ticket expressway projects have been awarded in the past one year. Since Augu­st 2020, four packages have been awarded under the Delhi-Vadodara Expressway and five under the Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway. Pa­ck­ages were also awarded under other key ex­pre­ssways such as the Raipur-Visakhapat­nam Expressway, the Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Ex­pre­ss­way, the Bengaluru-Chennai Express­way, the Delhi-Saharanpur Expressway and the Ahme­da­bad-Dholera Expressway. Meanwhile, the 82 km Delhi-Meerut Expressway was fully opened to traffic on April 1, 2021.

The 272 km Bengaluru-Chennai expressway and the 281 km Bengaluru Satellite Town Ring Road are being planned to be completed by March 2024. Of the proposed 22 expressways and economic corridors, four will be completed by 2023, 10 will be completed by 2024 and the remaining eight will be completed by 2025. Some of the other major expressways and economic corridors scheduled to be completed by 2025 are Hyderabad-Visakhapatnam, Chenn­ai-Selam, Solarphur-Kurnool and Nagpur-Vijayawa­da. Mean­while, the Delhi-Mumbai, Ahmeda­bad-Dholera and Amritsar-Jamnagar expressways are expected to be completed by March 2023.

Reportedly, NHAI has also decided to form special purpose vehicles (SPVs) to meet the huge fund requirement. The expressway pro­jects of shorter lengths, in the range of 50-150 km, will be clubbed and a single SPV will be for­m­ed for such projects. Bigger expressways of 300-400 km will have dedicated SPVs.

One of the most notable projects being im­plemented in this segment is the Delhi-Mum­bai Expressway. The 1,380 km expressway is being constructed at a cost of Rs 980 billion and is scheduled for completion by March 2023. Of the total 1,380 km, contracts have been awarded for more than 1,200 km. The eight-lane access-controlled expressway can be expanded to a 12-lane expressway depending on the traffic volume.

The Vadodara-Mumbai section of the proposed Delhi-Mumbai Expressway is being implemented by NHAI. The expressway will link the big industrial cities of Vadodara, Surat, Bharuch, Ankleshwar and Mumbai, immensely benefiting their economy. The total length of the proposed expressway is about 446 km and runs parallel to the existing NH-8. The expressway is being constructed at a cost of about Rs 400 billion. The 354 km stretch from Vadodara to Virar will be constructed in 13 packages. The stretch from Virar to the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust will have a length of 92 km and will be constructed in five packages.

In a major development, Patel Infrastruc­ture Limited has created a new world record for laying pavement quality concrete on two packages of the Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway within 24 hours. The achievement has been re­cognised by the India Book of Records as well as the Golden Book of World Records. Patel Infrastructure Limited has added another milestone to its work portfolio in the four record titles of the construction project for laying the highest quantity of pavement quality concrete (14,641.43 cubic metres (cum)), producing the largest quantum of pavement quality concrete (14,527.5 cum), laying pavement quality con­cre­te in 18.75 metre width continuously (1,280 metres) and laying the largest area of rigid pavement quality concrete for an expressway (48,804.75 square metres) in 24 hours.

Next steps

As NHAI works to complete one of the world’s longest expressways, the Delhi-Mumbai Expre­s­s­­way, there are four more such high speed highways lined up for execution by the centre. These are the Ahmedabad-Dholera, Delhi-Amritsar-Katra, Bengaluru-Chennai and Kan­p­ur-Lucknow stretches, which will be taken up next.

The development of different types of corridors/expressways is expected to optimise the movement of goods and people across the co­un­try through the adoption of a coherent corridor approach based on the origin-destination (O-D) principle. The O-D principle seeks to connect the production with the consumption centres and it will enable the connection of all 550 districts in the country through the national highway linkages. The bridging of critical infrastructure gaps in the existing highway network will ensure safe and seamless traffic movement and, in turn, have a positive impact on the logistics performance index of the country.