It took about five hours to travel between Mumbai and Pune, before the Mumbai-Pune Expressway was opened for the public in 2002. Officially named the Yashwantrao Chavan Mumbai Pune Expressway, this six-lane expressway has replaced the National Highway 4 (NH-4) as the preferred road between Mumbai and Pune.
The 94-kilometre Mumbai-Pune Expressway, which currently handles about 60,000 vehicles per day, is one of the busiest arterial corridors in India, linking India’s financial capital with Pune, the automobile manufacturing and education centre of Maharashtra.
Mumbai Pune Expressway: Planning
With an aim to initiate the project, the Maharashtra government appointed the Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) in 1990, to prepare a feasibility report for the Mumbai Pune Highway project. Nitin Gadkari, the then Public Works Department (PWD) minister of Maharashtra, proposed the Mumbai Pune Express Highway route from Kon (near Panvel) to Dehu Road (near Pune) in 1997. Subsequently, the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) was awarded the contract to build the highway.
See also: All you need to know about the Samruddhi Mahamarg
Mumbai-Pune Express Highway: Project cost
Completed in 1999, the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, billed as India’s first expressway project, was built at an estimated cost of Rs 1,600 crores. However, the expressway, also known to be the first road project to be completed on time in India, was fully completed only in 2002.
Mumbai-Pune expressway toll collection
Toll rates on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway have been increased from April 1, 2021.
|Vehicle type||Toll fee|
|Mini buses||Rs 420|
|Heavy-axle vehicles||Rs 580|
|Large trucks||Rs 1,380-1,835|
Note that on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, travellers are charged toll only for the distance that they travel.
Also read all about Delhi-Mumbai Expressway
Mumbai-Pune Expressway toll collection controversy
In 2020, a public interest litigation was filed in the Bombay High Court, challenging the extension of toll collection on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway till April 2030, even though an audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) found that the entire capital outlay of the Expressway was recovered in 2019.
In response, the MSRDC said the CAG audit neglected various aspects of the expenditure and was, thus, inaccurate.
Mumbai-Pune Expressway: Speed limit
Even though the project was designed for speeds of well over 120 kmph, the speed limit on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway is 80 kmph.
Since the alignment between Khopoli and Lonavala could not be constructed due to viability gap funding issues, the existing alignment of the NH-4 had to be followed by widening it to six lanes. This results in major traffic jams as the traffic from the NH-4 and the Expressway merge in this section.
To address this issue, a 13.3-km alternative alignment with eight lanes, popularly called the ‘missing link’, has been planned. It will start at the Khopoli Exit in Raigad and end at the Sinhagad Institute near Lonavala (Pune). Work on the project has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing the MSRDC to postpone the 2023-end deadline. When operational, the ‘missing link’ will reduce the distance between Mumbai and Pune by nearly six kilometres and will cut the total travel time on the highway by 25 minutes.
See also: Upcoming expressways in India
Mumbai-Pune Highway intelligent traffic management system
Amid a spike in the number of accidents and fatalities and recurring traffic jams on the Mumbai-Pune Highway, the Expressway will soon have an intelligent traffic management system.
The intelligent traffic management system is an artificial intelligence application, linked with high-tech cameras, sensors and other traffic violation detection systems, installed on highways. The system will provide real-time updates to traffic authorities at the central command centre and help keep a check on traffic violations. To be built on a public-private partnership basis, the system will cost Rs 160 crores for 10 years.
Note that speeding, overloaded vehicles, unauthorised halts and violation of traffic rules have resulted in a substantial rise in the number of accidents on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.
Who is the operator of the Mumbai Pune Expressway?
The Mumbai Pune Expressway is operated and maintained by the Maharashtra government through the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation.
Which company collects toll on the Mumbai-Pune Highways?
In 2021, toll road firm IRB Infrastructure Developers said that it had bagged a contract for operating and collecting toll on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway under the toll-operate-toll model from the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation.