With the opening of Hancock Bridge at Sandhurst Road, the BMC and the railways are now set to demolish the Carnac Bunder bridge. But does the bridge really need to go or can it be salvaged. Mid-Day accessed the IIT-B report that details its condition and has found out that the bridge is in a very derelict condition as per the report and has listed 10 key fault points due to which the bridge needs to be shut immediately.
After the over 150-year-old bridge had been flagged as “dangerous” by IIT Bombay in their audit few years ago with recommendations of immediate closure as it had become a danger for the busy rail traffic passing below, the traffic police had put restrictions on heavy vehicular traffic on the bridge. Despite several pleas by railways, the BMC and traffic police delayed shutting down the bridge completely till the Hancock Bridge was opened last week. Now with permissions from the BMC and the traffic police, the bridge is set to go any day. Here is what the IIT report says.
In engineering terms, two major components of any huge structure are the sub-structure and super-structure. The sub-structure is the part of the building that is underneath the ground, while the super-structure is everything that is above ground. The IIT-B report lists about seven major fault points in the sub-structure, including vegetation growth, cracked surfaces and even loss of parts of the bridge and about three in the supers-structure, finding corrosion and perforations in the main girders, rusted crash barriers at the bottom, with a recommendation that the super-structure shall be demolished “on priority”
1. Vegetation growth is observed in stone masonry.
2. Pointing eroded from stone masonry joints
3. Bed block has cracks & honeycombing is observed on concrete surface
4. Pedestals on columns are cracked and damaged.
5. Columns, bracings, gussets and brackets are heavily corroded and pitted.
6. Top beams are corroded, pitted and loss of section has been observed.
7. Steel plate bearings are crushed.
1. Main girders and cross girders on both ends of the bridge are heavily corroded, pitted and perforated.
2. M.S trough below the footpath on either ends of the bridge are heavily corroded and pitted.
3. Crash barriers are rusted at the bottom.
Bridge history and relics
The bridge has very important markings in three languages, Hindi Gujarati and English with the letters 1868 and name of the bridge carved on plaques on all four sides of the bridge (pics attached). The bridge was built about 30 years after a road came up at the location and was built by ‘Bhau’ an Indian entrepreneur Laxman Harishchandra Ajinkya in the 1840s while he was constructing one of the first wharf and basins of Bombay along the eastern shore. A wharf by his name Bhaucha Dhakka off Mazgaon is still famous in his name. The railways would try and see what they could do with the old plaques if they could be embedded into the new bridge design or brought to the heritage galleries.