The project involved construction of a 28-km long two-lane bypass road, the 32.2m new Athupalam bridge across the river Noyal, the railway overbridge at Chettipalayam Tamilnadu and the maintenance of the old bridge at Athupalam, all in the state of Tamilnadu. Larsen & Toubro (L&T)3 was authorized to collect and retain the fee from users of the new and old Athupalam bridges. The bypass was expected to ease the traffic congestion in Coimbatore city, Tamilnadu and the Salem-Cochin national highway running between Tamilnadu and Kerala. The shippers, mostly export oriented units relying on the Cochin port for shipments, were other major beneficiaries as transportation time could be saved using the new road.
Construction was started in January 1998 and completed in 22 months4 time. The Athupalam bridge was opened for traffic in December 1998 and the bypass became operative from January19, 2000. The project cost was about Rs.1.04 bn. The project concession period was for 12 years, and was expected to set a precedent for assessment of traffic risk patterns in the country for toll-based roads
However, the project ran into problems when users refused to pay the toll for the old Athupalam bridge. They argued that the old bridge was already in existence. As for the bypass and the new Athupalam bridge, they felt that the toll rates were on the higher side. They also complained that L&T had not taken them into confidence before coming out with the toll rates
In the 1970s, the Tamilnadu government planned the Coimbatore bypass road to ease the traffic congestion in Coimbatore and... [continues]
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