Vidyasagar Setu is the longest cable-stayed bridge in India built over the Hooghly River in West Bengal. It is also popularly known as the Second Hooghly Bridge, as it was the second bridge to be built across this river. It was named after Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar who was an educationist reformer and a key contributor to the Bengal Renaissance. The bridge carries the Kona Expressway (or NH 117) and connects Howrah to Kolkata. Vidyasagar Setu was built to decrease the congestion on Howrah Bridge that is located about 8 kilometres away.
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Interesting Facts of Vidyasagar Setu
The Second Hooghly bridge has a capacity of 85,000 vehicles.
Close to 30,000 vehicles ply over the Vidyasagar Setu on a daily basis.
The Vidyasagar Setu took more than 22 years to get completed.
It is the longest cable-stayed bridge in India.
The Vidyasagar Setu bridge is free for bicycles. (No toll)
History of Vidyasagar Setu
In the post-Independence era, the Howrah Bridge was the only link between Howrah and Kolkata. It was being subjected to excessive traffic congestion, bearing more than 85,000 vehicles on a single day. Therefore, plans for a new bridge were put forth. The construction of the Vidyasagar Setu began in July 1979. The bridge was officially opened to the public in October 1992. The project was under the Hooghly River Bridge Commission and was a joint venture between the public and private sectors. This project had cost 388 crores INR back in the day. It took 22 years for the project to reach fruition. The foundation stone for this bridge was laid by Mrs Indira Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India.
The Architecture of Vidyasagar Setu
The design for the bridge was laid down by a German Structuring and Consulting firm, Schlaich Bergermann & Partner. The grand work of engineering extends 2700 feet between the banks of Howrah and Kolkata. Freeman Fox & Partners and Bharat Bhari Udyog Nigam Limited had also worked on the project while the Hooghly River Bridge Commission was responsible for its operation.
The bridge has 121 steel cables arranged in a fan-type structure about 418 feet high and 115 feet wide. It has three lanes for heading in each direction and wide footpaths on both sides. Additionally, the bridge has vital components such as gas service support structures, lightning arresters, lifts in the pylons, crash barriers and a maintenance gantry.
Over the years of its operation, several accidents have occurred on Vidyasagar Setu resulting in severe traffic congestion at the bridge’s entry. Some of these situations have even led to the closure of the bridge for several hours. To avoid such situations in the future and to relieve the traffic congestion that might occur at the entry of the bridge, the Hooghly River Bridge Commission (HRBC) is planning to build exit and entry ramps. These ramps will enable the easy flow of traffic. Other plans for this second Hooghly bridge include installing LED lamps across it. An electronic toll collection system was also scheduled to help with the traffic flow across the bridge.