Users of National Highway 66 between Mangaluru and Surathkal may not have forgotten the ordeal last monsoon when the four-lane road became a pothole- and crater-ridden stretch that was almost non-motorable.
Though the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) belatedly undertook restoration work, which began in March and ended in April, it appears to have been done in a haphazard manner. NHAI officials had claimed that a contract worth ₹8 crore was awarded for repair of the Port Connectivity Project highway that comprises a 17-km stretch of NH 66 (NITK – Nanthoor) and a 20-km stretch of NH 75 (Nanthoor – B.C. Road).
While the contractor has filled almost all the potholes and craters with bitumen, issues of water stagnation on the main carriageway as well as the road shoulders have not been addressed. The NHAI itself had admitted that water stagnation was the main reason for erosion of the road surface.
For example, a huge crater was formed across the carriageway towards Udupi on NH 66 at its junction with Panambur Beach Road (between Kulur and Baikampady) last monsoon. The slope of the road surface towards the road median resulted in accumulation of water, thereby damaging the surface. The NHAI has restored the road surface without addressing the root cause and leaving the slope as it was.
Similarly, the issue of water stagnation all along the road shoulder between Nanthoor and NITK Surathkal has not been addressed and it has the potential to erode the surface of carriageways. Shoulder drains, wherever they exist, too have not been cleared of muck to facilitate smooth flow of rainwater.
At the same time, waterlogging at the beginning of the Kulur flyover ramp (towards Mangaluru) has not been addressed by the highways authority. The NHAI, which had promised to provide a proper rainwater outlet to the shoulder drain of the adjacent service road, has not executed the work.