Do you want to cut down travel time from Mumbai to Pune or Goa by 50 minutes and shorten the distance by 17 km? You may be able to do so in three or four years if the Union environment ministry clears a proposal for a bridge between Vikhroli and Mhape on the Thane creek. The six-lane bridge will start where the Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (JVLR) meets Eastern Express Highway (EEH) and end near Koparkhairane on Palm Beach Road. From here, it will be a short drive to Thane-Belapur Road, which connects with the Pune or Goa highways. JVLR’s daily load of one lakh vehicles (travelling between the eastern and western suburbs) will be substantially eased once the bridge comes up. For Kalyan, one can take Shil Phata Road via Mahape. At present, Pune or Goa-bound vehicles from Mumbai take either the Airoli or Vashi bridge on the Sion-Panvel highway, the traffic load of which will come down once the new bridge is ready. In all, 2 lakh vehicles will be diverted from the EEH and the Sion-Panvel highway to the bridge (which will be the sixth on the creek—the others being Kashedi, Bhiwandi, Kalwa, Airoli and Vashi). The bridge will connect with Lal Bahadur Shastri (LBS) Road, which runs parallel to the EEH. It will also facilitate traffic headed for Airoli, Kalwa and Thane. The portion of the bridge above the creek will be 2.33-km long. Its connectors to Ghatkopar and Koparkhairane will measure 4.15 km. The cost of construction has been estimated by the Public Works Department (PWD) and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to be Rs 535 crore. “It can be constructed in three years once all permissions are obtained. We have forwarded the proposal to the MMRDA for funding and are jointly seeking environmental clearance. The tendering process will take about six months,” said a senior official from the PWD. The bridge will be constructed with private participation. The developer will be allowed to recover costs and earn profit over 23 years through toll (refer to box for rates). “The feasibility of the project is sound. The only hurdle is environmental clearance as the bridge will come up on 29 hectares of mangroves and forestland. Another concern is if it will severely impact toll collection on the Vashi and Airoli bridges by diverting to itself a substantial number of vehicles,” the official said. Apart from this bridge, there are other projects concerning existing infrastructure on the creek. The Vashi bridge is being expanded to 12 lanes by adding another six as part of the Sion-Panvel highway expansion project, for which developers have been selected. The grandest plan concerns the 22-km, Rs 7,000-crore Nhava-Sewri sea link, for which bidding will be held—for the third time—soon.