The 44km Sinnar-Shirdi stretch of the Hindu Hrudaysamrat Balasaheb Thackeray Samruddhi Mahamarg is likely to be opened for vehicles by end of this month, said the officials of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC).
This six-lane access-controlled expressway is expected to reduce the travel times between Sinnar and Shirdi as well as Sinnar and Nagpur. While the time taken to commute between Sinnar and Shirdi is likely to drop from the current 50 minutes (using the existing Sinnar-Shirdi national highway) to just about 30 minutes once this section becomes operational, the travel time between Sinnar and Nagpur will reduce from the current 9 hours to 6 hours.
“The Sinnar-Shirdi stretch is likely to be opened by March-end. Barring a small section near Shirdi, the rest of the 44km stretch is ready,” said MSRDC officials, adding that the construction of this 44km section cost around Rs 2,000 crore.
“The Sinnar-Shirdi stretch of the expressway runs parallel to the existing Sinnar-Shirdi national highway. But the expressway has been designed in a manner that reduces the distance between Sinnar and Shirdi to just 44 km,” said the MSRDC officials. It must be noted that the distance between Sinnar and Shirdi using the national highway is more than 55 km.
The officials said since three- and two-wheelers will not be allowed on the expressway, the movement of four-wheelers and heavy vehicles will be faster and smoother. “We have deployed security guards and provisions like ambulances along this stretch of the expressway,” they said.
Meanwhile, Nashik’s industrial fraternity said that once this 44km section of the Samruddhi Mahamarg becomes operational, it will boost Nashik’s economic growth and benefit more than 1,000 industrial units based in the two MIDCs of the Sinnar industrial area.
“The movement of raw materials and finished products between the Vidarbha and Nashik regions will become faster. Transportation costs too will come down. The expressway will certainly aid economic growth in both these regions,” said Ashish Nahar, the vice-president of Nashik Industries and Manufacturers’ Association.
Nahar, who has an industrial unit in Sinnar, said the improved road connectivity will encourage Nashik industrialists to explore possibilities to set up bases in the Nagpur region. “Even in the agricultural sector, farmers would gain as their produce will be able to reach the Vidarbha region. This expressway will open up new markets for Nashik’s agricultural produce,” he said.
On Friday, chief minister Eknath Shinde informed the assembly that phase-II of the expressway, which passes through Nashik, would be completed soon. “This expressway is a game changer for our state,” he had said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated phase-I of this project – 520km between Nagpur and Shirdi – in December 2022.