Last August I wrote about the big road project that will widen NIH-66, transforming it from a one-lane road to a modern two lane highway. NH-66 goes from Pondicherry through Tiruvannamalai and ends at Krishnagiri, then (via NH-46) to Bangalore. The current upgrade begins from Tindivanam to Krishnagiri, since the leg from Pondicherry was completed a couple of years ago. The work encompasses 180 km in all. Last year it was thought that this would be an 18-month job. Now it looks more like it will take at least another year, so expect to encounter road construction through 2014.
The map below shows the 180 km route that is being upgraded.
One element that will be completed this year is the “Ring Road” around Tiruvannamalai, shown in pink in the map below. This new Ring Road encircles Tiruvannamalai from Velore Road to the north, to Chengam Road in the west. Through-traffic now will be routed around the city. This will be open by Deepam this year, the worst time of the year for traffic problems, so benefits will be seen right away.
During the construction it is much slower going on this route, increasing the time it takes to drive by up to twice the time. Because of this some people, when coming from (or going to) Bangalore, take the route shown in the next map. From Krishnagiri, head south on NIH-7 to Karimangalam, then generally east to Morappur, Hanur and then Tiruvannamalai. This route is reported to be faster, and less stressful.
Below are a few photos that show examples of road conditions east of Tiruvannamalai in early June of 2013.
The road, here, shows work on one side, where they are making a new road bed.
In the photo below, the new road to the left is finished, with maybe 6 inches of asphalt on top.
Here the whole road is newly paved and widened.
Then back to where it is being worked on with grading on one side and piles of crushed rock on the other.
Before the crushed rock is brought in, a layer of compacted dirt is laid down, maybe one foot thick. Below this is sand, about 6 inches.
Concrete pipe being laid under the new roadbed, the smallest type of culvert installed on this new road.
Trees lay beside the road construction, uprooted for the new road.
Here is another stretch where the full road has been finished.
Below, a larger culvert being constructed. There are many of these, and each takes about three months to finish.
Above the dirt layer is maybe 8 inches of crushed rock. The asphalt is laid on top of this layer.
Below, a bypass around a culvert being built. Stumps of uprooted trees lay about. They remind me of dead soldiers lying on a battlefield. I know the government looked carefully at the trees, cut down only what was needed, and , they say, will replant many more than were cut. But it will take 50 years or more for the new trees to grow to full size. I grieve for all the trees that have been taken.
A small bridge under construction. This is the next step up from a culvert.
As the route nears bigger towns along the way, there are bypasses being constructed to route the traffic around them. Here is one as it goes off from the main road.
Another “dead soldier” by the roadside.
The tree clearing here was recent, with fresh cuts on the tree’s roots.
We drove over one of the new bypass roads, going around the town of Pennathur. It is not open yet, so we are one of the first vehicles to use the new road.
Back at the main road, another small bridge under construction. No concrete has been poured yet, they are just building the forms.
A lot of bracing is needed to hold the weight of the wet concrete.
A truck brings another load of crushed rock. We see few workers on the road today. Our driver says that they do most of the work at night, to reduce the traffic problems.
Returning to Arunachala, a finished roadbed waits for its asphalt topping.
The bridge and culvert building team has not gotten to Tiruvannamalai yet. Many have yet to be built on the road’s approach to the city. I think this means that completion of the stretch into Tiruvannamalai from Pondicherry or Chennai is many months away.
Below is a new view of Arunachala for most people. It is available from the Ring Road that connects with the highway to Velore. It is just an example of the glorious views of Arunachala that the Tiruvannamalai Ring Road will make available to travellers. In this way, the new road gives blessings from Arunachala to those travelling by this holy hill.
Again, the route that bypasses Tiruvannamalai city is supposed to be open before Deepam 2013. The rest of the construction is due to be completed sometime in 2014, probably late in the year. For now, be aware that your drive into Tiruvannamalai, from Chennai, Pondicherry, or Bangalore, will take more time. As more sections are completed, it will get a bit faster in places, but this is a big road project, and much work remains. Expect delays for now.