The Asian Development Bank has agreed to provide a $500 million loan to build the longest river bridge in India.
The 9.8km road bridge, located in the north-eastern state of Bihar across the Ganges River, will link the northern and southern parts of the state to neighbouring Nepal.
Serving as an alternative route to the existing Ganga Bridge, the project involves the construction of viaducts, embankments, toll and service facilities, and links to national highway networks.
ADB noted that the year-round embankment access road for the Raghopur Diara river island’s 250,000 inhabitants will end their reliance on boats and a seasonal pontoon bridge as their only links to Patna.
With a population of over 100 million, Bihar has been seeing rising traffic volumes. However, there are only four operational bridges along the 200km stretch of the Ganges River that pass through the state. The capacity of existing bridges is already stretched, undermining connectivity and access to opportunities for northern communities, ADB pointed out in a statement.
“The new bridge will make it easier for people to move between jobs and markets, particularly for poorer communities in the north wishing to travel to the state capital, Patna, just south of the river,” said Dong Kyu Lee, a project officer within ADB’s South Asia Department. “In all, the bridge is expected to benefit over nine million people.”
Along with ADB’s loan and $900,000 in technical assistance to improve bridge operation and management, the government of Bihar will provide support equivalent to $215 million. The project is expected to complete by the end of 2020.
Since 2008, ADB has provided three loans totalling $1.02 billion to upgrade state highways in north and south Bihar. The new bridge is part of Bihar’s State Highways Development strategy.