NH 17 is one of India’s busiest National Highways that connects north to south along the western coast of India, parallel to the Western Ghats. It connects Panvel in Maharashtra to Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, passing through the States of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The 187km stretch connecting Karwar to Kundapura in Karnataka is a BOT project executed by IRB Westcoast Tollway Ltd.
The major cities and towns along the way include Panvel, Chiplun, Ratnagiri, Panaji, Margao, Karwar, Udupi, Surathkal, Mangalore, Kozhikode, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kanyakumari.
Built at a cost of Rs.3,447crores, the project achieved its first provisional COD in February 2020. This is one of the peculiar projects, which passes through plain, rolling & hilly terrain. It has tunnels and some major challenging structures over perennial rivers. However, identification of the bottle necks and proper planning from the site level to the management level helped to complete the project in time.
The important features include widening of 187.29 km into 4-lane; 61.262 km of service road; 17 major & six minor junctions; 14 main bridges; 573 culverts; four flyovers; 13 pedestrian underpasses; two twin tunnels; three toll plazas and 53 bays/bus shelters.
After widening the highway from 2-laning to 4-Laning, the time taken to travel from Karwar to Kundapura has been drastically reduced, which has further resulted in lesser wear and tear of vehicles along with the saving in fuel consumption to a great extent; thus, achieving pollution control.
Safety measures for better commuting
The safety measures are carried out as per the provisions under Concession Agreement; e.g., proper diversion boards, provision of blinkers, barricading construction zones, display of required signages across the project stretch, etc. The safety measures are in place and monitored 24×7 to avoid any mishap to the users of the project.
Technologies and construction methodologies
Deployment of Jack-up rigs for the geotechnical investigation facilitated speedy work. Cantilever Construction Gantries for construction of large span bridge on Kali River, launching of Girder on barges at Sharavathi river and use of Precast Girders for other bridges were other successful methodologies. Also, Hydraulic Piling Rigs were used along with Conventional Rigs. High quality construction materials were used to help increase the life of the structures and highway and also help maintain cost reduction during O & M period.
Considering the geographical and topographical conditions, the project faced significant challenges in terms of Highway Engineering: Construction of major bridges spanning up to 120m each close to Arabian Sea; 1.2 km long bridges over perennial river; tunnel construction in both, hard as well as soft rock; rock cutting for 60m height and cutting in lateritic hill for about 50m height.