Mumbai’s costliest skywalk is fast coming up at Nana Chowk near Grant Road in south Mumbai. Estimated to cost over Rs.50 crore, it is the only skywalk employing a cable-stayed design.
Running behind schedule for over three years, the project missed another deadline of full-completion by June 15. The cable-stayed design was deployed as it minimised the use of piers on the busy Nana Chowk junction that is a confluence of five major roads connecting Tardeo, Kemp’s Corner, Girgaum Chowpatty, Opera House and Lamington Road.
The skywalk with its multiple discharge points aims to ferry human traffic to and from Grant Road railway station, apart from local residents crossing the often-chaotic Nana Chowk junction. Currently, the link between the railway station and Nana Chowk (on road connecting Tardeo) is complete.
The oval skywalk, around 510m in length, will be suspended by high-tensile steel ropes from a single-column structure (in picture). For Mumbai, this will be the second cable-stayed structure after the Bandra-Worli Sea Link commissioned in 2010.
Work on the skywalk began in 2008, but was stalled due to opposition from local residents. It was expected to complete by 2009 by original timelines. The time overrun has also shot up the project cost by at least 30 per cent.
Apart from its iconic structure, the Grant Road skywalk will be known for its fancy night LED illumination, which unconfirmed reports suggest would cost over Rs.3 crore. Some experts and several local residents have criticized project implementing agency MSRDC for the profligate expenditure on LED lights. Local residents are already agitated over the traffic chaos and peril caused over the past four years of slow-paced construction work.
Experts generally feel that skywalks in Mumbai–some 50 of them constructed, under construction or planned—have far from served their intended purpose of diverting human traffic from busy roads. The absence of lifts and escalators on most of them has made skywalks inaccessible especially to senior citizens who would have otherwise been the biggest beneficiaries.
Mumbai got its first skywalk in mid-2008 – a 1.3-km connector between Bandra railway station (East) and Kalanagar Junction. Ever since, there has been a spate of skywalk projects spearheaded by MSRDC and MMRDA.