A drive between Mumbai and Goa, located at a distance of about 600 km, will take just six hours, thanks to the revival of the National Highway Authority of India's (NHAI) four-lane concrete road project, Union minister for road transport, highways and shipping Nitin Gadkari has said. The widening of the two-lane NH-66 into a four-lane one, at an estimated expense of Rs.12,000 crore, will be completed by 2018.There are plans to build 15 bridges along the stretch for faster vehicular movement.
The project to widen the existing highway , constructed in 1974, had begun in 2011on a build-operate-transfer basis, but came to a halt due to lack of clearances from the forest department and problems with land acquisition. A 20 km stretch of the approximately 472 km-long highway passes through the Karnala bird sanctuary--an eco-sensitive zone--with 1.5 km running right through the forest's core area.
Gadkari added that the new road will have a lifespan of at least 50 years.
The NHAI is responsible for the widening of an 84 km stretch from Panvel to Indapur at a cost of approximately Rs.1,000 crore. Expansion of the 350 km stretch from Indapur till Ratnagiri is being handled by Maharashtra's public works department and contracts have already been handed out for 150 km.
The highway will help boost tourism in the coastal state, Gadkari said, and added that he has agreed to link the Mumbai-Goa highway to Pollem in South Goa against the earlier plan to connect it up to Patradevi on Goa's border touching Maharashtra.Gadkari also said that an eight kilometre stretch of highway will be constructed to connect the upcoming Mopa airport in North Goa, 40 km away from Panaji, to NH-17 at a cost of approximately Rs.300 crore.