The 210 km stretch of Mumbai-Nagpur super communication expressway between Nagpur and Shelu Bazaar in Washim district will be opened for motorists on May 2, while the 310 km stretch from Shelu Bazaar to Shirdi will be opened on August 15.
Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray will commission this portion of the first phase of the 701 km project, officially called Hindu Hridaysamrat Balasaheb Thackeray Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg.
Once fully operational, the Mumbai-Nagpur expressway, which is being executed by Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation, will cut travel time between the two cities from 14-15 hours to nearly eight hours.
Pointing out that the 210 km section cuts the wildlife corridor between Bor Tiger Reserve and Umred Karhandla Wildlife Sanctuary tiger reserves and through the ecosensitive zone of sanctuaries like Karanja Sohl and Katepurna Wildlife Sanctuary, officials said tigers are expected to use the animal overpasses and underpasses designed along the route.
Overall, there are 76 underpasses on this Eway. Around Rs 350 crore has been spent on creating facilities for the wildlife. Greens had wanted the expressway to be thrown open only after the underpasses and overpasses were ready—the plantations are still young—as incomplete ones could cause danger to tigers and other wild animals. The E-way will host a 250MW solar power project, while the decision to build a high-speed railway along the route will be taken by Centre, said urban development minister Eknath Shinde. Also, 12 lakh trees will be planted along the entire median.
As it will take 40 years to recover the Rs 55,335 crore cost, initial toll will be around Rs 1,200 for cars, MSRDC MD Radheshyam Mopalwar said. The toll amount will rise by 16% every three years.
An estimated 35,000 vehicles are expected to use the E-way soon after its full commissioning, which is expected in 2023 as work on the Mumbai-Shirdi section is ongoing, said Mopalwar.