Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated the 14-lane, access-controlled, Phase-I of the Delhi-Meerut Expressway, stretching from Nizamuddin Bridge to Delhi-UP Border, and the 135km Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE), stretching from Kundli on NH 1 to Palwal on NH 2, both in the Delhi NCR.
Once completed, the INR8.41bn ($124m) Delhi-Meerut Expressway is expected to reduce travel time from the national capital to Meerut and to several other parts of western Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Built at a cost of INR110bn ($1.63bn), the EPE is India’s first smart and green highway, which is expected to contribute to the twin objectives of decongesting and de-polluting the national capital by diverting traffic not destined for Delhi.
The Delhi-Meerut Expressway, an 8.360km stretch of National Highway, has been completed in just 18 months as against the earlier expected construction period of 30 months.
It includes a six-lane expressway and 4+4 service lanes and is the first National Highway in India with 14 lanes.
The expressway has several features that would help reduce pollution, including a 2.5-metre-wide cycle track on either side of the highway, a vertical garden on the Yamuna Bridge, solar lighting system and watering of plants through drip irrigation.
The Prime Minister laid the foundation stone for the project on 31 December 2015.
The total length of the Delhi-Meerut Expressway project is 82km, of which the first 27.74km will be 14-laned, while the rest will be six-lane expressway.
The project, which is likely to cost INR49.75bn, will be the first expressway to have dedicated bicycle tracks on the 28km stretch between Delhi and Dasna.
The project involves construction of 11 flyovers/interchanges, five major and 24 minor bridges, three rail over bridges (ROBs), 36 vehicular and 14 pedestrian underpasses. It will have an elevated section of 5.91km.
Once the project is complete, travel time between Delhi and Meerut will be reduced to 60 minutes.
The other project of Peripheral Expressways around Delhi comprises Western Peripheral Expressway (WPE) and Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE), connecting NH-1 and NH-2 from western and eastern sides of Delhi for which the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone on 5 November 2015.
The EPE alignment starts near Kundli NH-1, crosses River Yamuna, SH-57 Mawikalan, NH-58 near Duhai, NH-24 near Dasna, NH-91 near Beel Akbarpur, Kasna-Sikandra road near Sirsa, River Yamuna again at Faizupur Khadar village (Haryana), Atali-Chainsa Road (near Maujpur village) and ends at Palwal on NH-2 to join Western PE.
The government has acquired 1,700 hectares for the EPE at a cost of INR59bn ($879m) and the cost of the project is INR46.17bn ($679m).
The fully access-controlled six-lane expressway has been completed in 500 days against the scheduled target of 910 days.
Entry and exit on the expressway are through designated interchanges only.
The expressway has four major bridges, 46 minor bridges, three flyovers, seven interchanges, 221 underpasses, eight ROBs, and 114 culverts.
This is the first expressway in India to use solar power on the entire length of 135km. Eight solar power plants have been established along the expressway, with a capacity of 4000KW (4MW) for lighting of the underpasses and running solar pumps for watering plants.