The highly anticipated and much discussed Bandra-Worli sea link will opened to the public at midnight today. Some sort of pre-inauguration happened today morning with dazzling lights and lasers, fireworks as well as thousands of onlookers. It will be officially inaugurated tonight by Smt. Sonia Gandhi. It is being touted as being the pride of not only Mumbai, but also India as it is one of the first sea bridges built here. It took 10 years for it to come real, 5 years more than expected and after much resistance from the local fishing community.
The bridge has managed to generate much hype and attention, with potential commuters already thinking toll plans to be taken. The bridge will operate toll-free from July 1 to July 5, a politically motivated move. Also, just 4 out of the 8 lanes will be operational for the first 6 months from now. So, the bridge will be 'fully' operational close to New Year.
At 5.6 km length with 8 lanes, the bridge promises to cut down the daily commute time between Bandra and Worli from 40 minutes to 7-8 minutes. A lot has been said about what a gigantic engineering marvel it is - steel rope as much as the circumference of the earth, weight of nearly 50,000 African elephants and what not. But what is most noble about the bridge is its purpose - reducing traffic on the congested Mahim Causeway and providing a quick and comfortable ride to Mumbai's harried commuter.
What will be interesting to see is how the average Mumbaikar reacts to all the infrastructural changes happening around. The sea link is only the beginning - the Metro is in its first phase, skywalks are mushrooming everywhere and the Link Road from Mira Road to Santacruz is 90% complete. The Mumbaikar will notice how Mumbai's landscape has changed dramatically over the last 5-6 years. Open spaces are being eaten up, roads are getting congested and trains have not improved much in spite of the quadrupling of tracks and all. In 5-10 years from now, Mumbai will be completely different - for better or for worse!
Here's s nice map for you to pore over - though it is a bit old one at the time of this writing - the sea link is under construction in this map!