Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway: Phase 1 to be opened on May 2
A 210km-long stretch between Nagpur and Shelu Bazar—the first phase of the 701km Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Expressway—will open to the public on May 2. The 310km-long Shelu Bazaar-Shirdi stretch will open on August 15. Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray will inaugurate the first phase of the Hindu Hridaysamrat Balasaheb Thackeray Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg project. The expressway aims to reduce the travel time between Mumbai and Nagpur.
- The 701km-long Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway will be India's first green highway equipped with an air ambulance.
- The project is being constructed at a cost of Rs. 55,000 crore by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC).
- The expressway project aims to change the future of rural and semi-urban areas by connecting ten districts in Maharashtra to megacities and the Jawaharlal Nehru Port as well.
Maharashtra's Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde said they are planning to finish the expressway project by 2023-end. He said they are also ensuring safety for commuters by deploying a Quick Response Team with paramedical staff and developing a helipad for air ambulances, too, to help those injured in accidents. In fact, the Quick Response Team would be deployed before the expressway's inauguration, he added.
Shinde further said, "As per MSRDC's plan, 18 new cities will be developed along with the expressway. We are working on detailed projects for cities.." Over 11 lakh trees and 22 lakh shrubs will be planted along the highway, he said. "MSRDC...made provisions for wild animals in the form of three subways and three bridges (two are under construction) for them," added the minister.
The expressway will also reportedly house a 250MW solar power project, while the Centre is likely to develop a high-speed railway along its route too. Noting it will take 40 years to recover the project's costs, MSRDC Managing Director Radheshyam Mopalwar said initially cars will be charged a toll of Rs. 1,200. The toll rates will increase by 16% every three years, he added.
According to Mopalwar, toll fees for the Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway will be Rs. 1.72 per km, while the same for the Mumbai-Pune Expressway is currently Rs. 2.95 per km. He also stated that they have designated 21 plots for different amenities, some of which could be used as helipads as well. Meanwhile, the vehicle speed limit on the expressway has been set at 120km/h.