The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is all set to begin work on the third package of Tiruchi-Chidambaram National Highway widening project, covering the final leg between Meensuritti and Chidambaram, shortly.
The 134-km long Tiruchi-Chidambaram National Highway is being widened at a total investment of about ₹4,000 crore. The NHAI is executing the project in three packages — while package-I covers the Tiruchi-Kallagam stretch, package-II runs from Kallagam to Meensuritti and package-III will cover the stretch between Meensuritti in Ariyalur district and Chidambaram in Cuddalore district.
Work on the first two packages is already under way and has made substantial progress. The NHAI had earlier called for fresh bids for the third package after the initial contract was terminated due to land acquisition issues. The contract has since been awarded and the work is set to begin shortly, NHAI sources said. “The contractor is on the ground and the work will begin in the first or second week of August. Land acquisition for widening the stretch has been completed,”.
According to sources, nearly 75% of the work on the first package has been completed so far and 55-65% of the works have been completed on the second package. Work on both the stretches is expected to be completed by January 2022.
Package III will cover 31 km of the highway stretch, of which about 26 km will be bypass road stretches, making it almost a greenfield highway. The third and final package is set to be completed within two years from the date of commencement of works.
The first 50 km of the highway, from Tiruchi to nearly Keezha Pazhur, is being converted into a four-lane highway with carriage ways of 8.7 metres on each side. Beyond this point, it will be a two-lane highway with paved shoulders. The two-lane highway would have a width of 10 metres.
The project is expected to come as a boon to residents of Tiruchi, Ariyalur and Cuddalore and the industries located along the highway. A massive flyover is being constructed near Samayapuram providing a link between the Tiruchi-Chennai and Tiruchi-Chidambaram National Highways. Bypass roads will come up at various places including Lalgudi-Poovalur, Keezha Pazhur, Mela Pazhur, Jayamkondam and Kattumannarkovil.
The Tiruchi-Kallagam section is a busy stretch of the highway with high traffic volume of goods vehicles as several cement factories are located along the highway. Road accidents involving vehicles carrying raw materials to the cement units often leads to protests in and around Ariyalur, triggering demands for construction of underpasses at various places.
Though the non availability of migrant labourers had impacted the work during the lockdown last year, the NHAI had subsequently resumed work on the first two packages of the project after obtaining permission from the authorities in the districts.