Mumbai: Sion ROB Closure Delayed Again, Postponed Until After Lok Sabha Polls

Mumbai, 28th March 2024: In a recurring pattern, the closure date of the colonial-era road overbridge (ROB) at Sion, flagged as structurally compromised by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay in April 2020, has been postponed for the third consecutive time within three months, as announced on Wednesday. The anticipated schedule now indicates that the bridge’s dismantling and subsequent reconstruction will likely occur only after the Lok Sabha polls.

Dating back to 1912, the ROB serves as a crucial link between Dharavi, Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg, and the Eastern Express Highway. Its closure will disrupt east-west traffic flow, necessitating the rerouting of motorists through Kurla. The proposed dismantling and reconstruction process is estimated to span three months and two years, respectively, with an estimated cost of ₹50 crore. The reconstruction project aims to accommodate two additional railway lines between Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus and Kurla on the Central Railway, facilitating the segregation of mail/express and suburban trains. To accommodate these additional lines, the span of girders in the ROB needs to be expanded from the existing 30 meters to 49 meters.

Originally slated for closure on January 20, the ROB shutdown was deferred due to protests from residents, with MP Rahul Shewale intervening. Subsequently, February 28 was designated as the new closure date, but it was postponed again to avoid inconveniencing students appearing for board examinations, scheduled to conclude in late March.

March 28 marked the third scheduled closure date, but the decision was postponed once more following a directive ‘from the top,’ received by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), railways, and traffic police on March 27.

In its audit report, IIT-Bombay underscored the structural degradation of the ROB, particularly in the first two I-girders, the reinforced cement concrete deck slab, and the parapet wall. The presence of plants and roots on the bridge has further weakened its overall structure, according to sources.

Upon closure of the ROB to the public, preliminary tasks such as asphalt removal and clearing of cables and other structures are expected to take approximately one month. Subsequently, dates for implementing the demolition mega block would be finalized.