In 3 years, zip from Pune to Solapur in just 2 hours

In three years, Puneiites will be able to reach Solapur in two hours flat or even less, thanks to the agreement signed between the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the Pune Solapur Expressway Pvt Ltd -a Special Purpose Vehicle floated by Tata group's Navinya Buildcon Pvt Ltd and Italian group Atlantia SpA.

The Rs 1,100-crore project plans to convert the existing 'two-lane, undivided' Solapur highway into a 'four-lane divided carriageway'.

The speed limit on the new highway will be 100 km per hour. The MoU, which was signed on May 19, is only concerned with the 40 km mark to to 144 km mark on the highway and is the first phase of the project till Indapur.

It will reduce the time taken to travel towards Solapur, especially the time taken from Pune to Daund and Pune to Baramati.

"It is a Memorandum of Understanding for Rs 1,100 crore where the government grant is Rs 299 crore; the Navinya Buildcon Pvt Ltd will raise the rest of the amount. It is a contract for 21 years, which includes the three-year construction period. They will be able to collect the toll tax for 17 years," said A P S Sethi, NHAI Chief General Manager.

According to sources, the project was, however, now pegged higher at Rs 1,400 crore because of cost escalation.

The initial cost was estimated in 2005.

The existing Solapur highway is a two-lane undivided lane with no median. The new highway will be a divided four-lane highway, which will be a part of the National Highway-9 between Mumbai and Hyderabad. The earmarked stretch will have 7-8 grade separators that will include flyovers or underpasses.

Unlike an expressway, this NH9 stretch will only have partial access control; which means vehicles will be able to join the highway at various points.

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