Saturday, September 22, 2012

Metro Bus Service: Work on new Ravi bridge yet to start

Work is yet to begin on a key bridge across River Ravi for the Metro Bus Service project.
The chief minister has set a December deadline for completion of the project.
A Traffic Engineering and Planning Authority (TEPA) official associated with the project, who spoke on condition on anonymity, told The Express Tribune that building the 700-metre bridge could take up to six months. He believed that the earliest the project could be completed was by January 2013.
The project was started in February as the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS). The name has been changed since to Metro Bus Service.
The original plan was for a 7-kilometre track from Gaju Matta to Kalma Chowk. It was later extended till Shahdara.
According to the original plan, the track would have been laid at ground level. The design was changed to include elevated tracks in May.
Other changes included expanding the Lahore Bridge and constructing a new bridge over River Ravi.
The TEPA official told The Tribune that work on the new bridge could not be started because of lack of funds. “The project cost has already risen by Rs7 billion,” he said. “A new Ravi bridge will cost another Rs1.5 to Rs2 billion,” the official told The Tribune. He called it an “uphill task” saying the bridge will require 70-metre deep piles.
He said that work on packages five and six (from Data Darbar to Niazi Chowk and Niazi Chowk to Shahdara) was also behind schedule.
The Traffic Engineering and Planning Authority official said that the government was now thinking of using the Ravi Bridge for Metro buses until the new bridge was constructed.
Mazhar Hussain, the TEPA director, declined to comment on whether or not the project will be delayed. He said work on packages five and six was continuing at “a decent pace”, adding that they were trying their best to meet the deadline.
He also said that the bus service was not dependant on the new bridge. He said in case the new bridge wasn’t built in time, the Ravi Bridge could be used by the MBS. “That is what the Planning and Development Department had originally proposed,” he said.

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