Mumbai: India’s longest sea bridge – the 21.8-km Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) – is expected to be inaugurated by prime minister Narendra Modi on January 12.

The state government has sent a formal request to the prime minister’s office for his presence at the inauguration. “PM Narendra Modi is expected to inaugurate the National Youth Festival in Nashik on January 12 and a formal request has been sent to the central government for his presence for the inauguration of India’s longest sea bridge on the same day,” said an official from the chief minister office.

The bridge has passed the load carrying capacity tests held over the last fortnight and is ready to be opened for vehicular traffic. The project is now operationally completed, though ancillary work outside the vehicular corridor is expected to be completed in the next few days, according to officials.

The crucial call on the toll on the corridor will be taken by the state government shortly. “Though the MMRDA has proposed a toll of ₹500, it could be reduced to ₹300- ₹350 keeping the election season in mind,” said an official from Mantralaya. “The toll proposed by the MMRDA is justified keeping the cost of the price and the saving of time and fuel. Chief minister Eknath Shinde, who also heads MMRDA, is expected to take a call on the toll charges before its opening,” added the official.

The MTHL project is divided into three packages. Each of these packages has undergone around five load carrying tests in the last two weeks, said an official. “The load carrying capacity test needs to be passed by any major bridge to test the deflections on various parts of the project. It is done by the contractor and consultant jointly by carrying dumpers and heavy carriers on various sections of the project,” said the official.

In the last couple of weeks, the work on toll plazas, control and command structure and other ancillary work has been completed. An officer said the work on the connectors, including the one connecting Worli, are separate projects and they will be completed in their own course.

The sea bridge would have an open road tolling system, which allows uninterrupted passage of the vehicles without having to stop at the toll plazas.

The bridge was supposed to be inaugurated on December 25, but it missed the deadline. Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Aaditya Thackeray, who was guardian minister of the city in the previous MVA government, has questioned the delay. “…The delay is either because they want to inaugurate closer to election dates or the VIPS don’t have time for Maharashtra,” he posted on social media platform X on Tuesday.

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