Work has begun on widening the Mamallapuram-Mugaiyur stretch on the East Coast Road (ECR) into a four-lane road. The contractor is removing shrubs and clearing the sides of the road.
Sources in the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) said the civil work would cost ₹780 crore, and with land acquisition the cost would be ₹1,200 crore.
The road has two lanes up to Puducherry, and the curves on the scenic highway have been straightened by the Tamil Nadu Road Development Company that had maintained the toll road earlier. The agreement for the stretch from Mugaiyur to Marakkanam has been signed, and the company is expected to commence the work by Pongal. This portion, too, will cost ₹1,200 crore.
Tenders are to be floated soon for the portion from Marakkanam to Puducherry. This work would cost ₹2,200 crore as it involves formation of a 33-km bypass from Koonimedu to the Puducherry-Villupuram Road.
Since the road runs through several rivers, backwaters and vast stretches of salt pans, long bridges have been planned. “We require elevated facilities at all these places. Grade separators are to be constructed at Poonjeri near Mamallapuram and also near Puducherry,” the sources said.
Lakshmanan, a driver who travels frequently to Marakkanam, said widening was a long-felt need among road users. Lighting too should be improved and facilities should be provided for pedestrians and animals that cross the road.
Padmapriya Baskaran, who regularly travels on the ECR, said the widening should not spoil the greenery and the view of the beaches on the road. Native varieties of trees should be preserved, she added.