New Delhi: India's longest road tunnel, being built on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, will be opened for general traffic in July next year and would reduce the distance between the two cities by 30 kms.
Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari will visit Udhampur on Monday to witness "the final blast ceremony" where the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) engineers will drill a hole through the final section of the tunnel between Chenani and Nashri.
The 9.2 km tunnel is part of 286 km-long four-laning project of the Jammu-Srinagar national highway.
Once this tunnel becomes operational it will reduce the traffic jams on National Highway-1A that occur due to snowfall and avalanche in winter at Patnitop, Road Transport and Highways Ministry said in a release.
"The road is likely to be opened for public in July next year," it said. The work started on this tunnel on May 23, 2011.
The tunnel, connecting Chenani in Udhampur with Nashri in Ramban district, is being completed at a cost of over Rs 2500 crore
The state-of-the-art tunnel is simultaneously being built from the two ends and the NHAI teams will meet at the centre by drilling a hole through the final section.
It will also reduce the existing road distance between two points on the highway from 41 km to 10.89 km.
The statement said NHAI is also constructing a parallel escape tunnel along with the main tunnel for evacuation of commuters in case of eventuality.
The two tubes of the tunnel will be internally connected through 29 "cross-passages" (each after a gap of 300 meters) and the escape tunnel will exclusively be used for pedestrians. There is a provision for ventilation keeping in view the distance of the tunnel.
This state-of-the-art tunnel project will also have parking spots after a specific distance to tow away or shift vehicles in case of a breakdown. The four-lane project would go a long way in creating an all-weather road to the Kashmir valley.