Union minister for Road Transport & Highways ministry Nitin Gadkari will visit Udhampur in Jammu & Kashmir on July 13 to witness the opening of India’s longest road tunnel which will cut distance between Jammu and Srinagar by 30 kms. It will also reduce traffic jams on National Highway-1A owing to snowfall and avalanches in winter at Patnitop. Gadkari will be present at the final blast ceremony where the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) engineers will drill a hole through the final section of the tunnel between Chenani and Nashri.
The state-of-the-art tunnel is simultaneously being built from the two ends. NHAI teams will make the same meet at the centre by drilling a hole through the final section. The 9.2 km tunnel, which is part of the ambitious 286 km-long four-laning of the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, will reduce the distance between two cities — Jammu and Srinagar — by around 30 km.
The road is likely to be opened to traffic in July next year. Work on the tunnel was started on May 23, 2011. The tunnel, connecting Chenani in Udhampur with Nashri in Ramban district, is being completed at a cost of over Rs 2500 crore. It will also reduce the existing road distance between two points on the highway from 41 km to 10.89 km.
The NHAI is also constructing a parallel escape tunnel along with the main tunnel for evacuation of commuters in case of any eventuality. The two tubes of the tunnel will be internally connected through 29 “cross-passages” (each after a gap of 300 meters) and the escape tunnel will exclusively be used for pedestrians. There is a provision for ventilation keeping in mind the distance of the tunnel.
This state-of-the-art tunnel project will also have parking spots after a specific distance to tow away or shift vehicles in case of a breakdown. The four-lane project will go a long way in creating an all-weather road to the Kashmir valley.
Musafir Namah Bureau