Authorities have put on backburner the proposal to make Rajbagh skewed footbridge motorable which would have eased traffic congestion in the summer capital.

The footbridge over Jhelum near Presentation Convent School was earlier envisioned as a motorable bridge to reduce traffic congestion in southern city. However, despite spending around Rs 12 crore on the bridge, it was later converted into a footbridge by the PDP-BJP coalition government.

A senior official of Public works department said that administration sought expert views on making Rajbagh footbridge motorable. The decision was taken on the directions of former Governor NN Vohra. “He was in favor of making this bridge motorable as per the original plan. However, there has not been any forward movement in this regard so far after change in guard.”

“There was general consensus that the bridge would be thrown open for traffic movement as it could help in redressing the traffic mess in the southern part of the city. Besides there was a general opinion that footbridge is not serving any purpose as there are two other footbridges adjacent to this one,” he said.

Managing director JK Projects Construction Corporation, Viqar Mustafa Shunthu, said “a proposal was mooted at higher level to use this bridge as a motorable bridge.” “But we have not received any communication for further action. If we are communicated anything in this regard, we will definitely go with the decision made by the government,” he said.

Originally planned for vehicular traffic and popularly known as Skewed Bridge, it was constructed at whopping cost of Rs 12 crore. An engineer who was part of construction process of Rajbagh Bridge said there will be no problem in re-converting the bridge into a motorable one.

“It has got foundation of a motorable bridge and its design is also suitable for carrying vehicular movement,” he said.

“It was a shock to us when at the last moment of finalising its construction, we were asked to convert it into a footbridge. It meant wastage of Rs 12 crore as footbridge would only cost around Rs 1 to 2 crore,” he said.

According to a survey carried out by RITES, the 120-metre-long bridge with three spans will connect the busy Polo View road with Raj Bagh near Presentation Convent School across Jhelum. The bridge will help in reducing the traffic load on Abdullah Bridge which frequently witnesses traffic jams during peak hours.

The J&K chapter of the Institution of Engineers India (IEI) had also pitched for making the bridge motorable, stating that the government’s move to convert it into a pedestrian bridge would result in wastage of money.

Engineers from various developmental sectors had also recommended that “motorable bridge as per the original proposal should be constructed with a soffit level of 1589 metres instead of 1590.30 meters.”  The engineers said a motorable bridge was needed to ease traffic congestion in the city.