Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Elphinstone Bridge, Adyar : Bridges of Colonial Madras

Elphinstone Bridge (Old) and Thiru Vi Ka Bridge (New) across Adyar River, Chennai (Source: The Hindu)
Elphinstone Bridge Covered with Slab
Elphinstone Bridge Beneath the Concrete Slab
View from Elphinstone Bridge: Whale Island, skyscraper buildings and the Adyar river
View from Elphinstone Bridge, Adyar: Whale Island, skyscraper buildings and the Adyar river

Tunnel Below the Elphinstone Bridge
Elphinstone Bridge is  one of the oldest bridges of Colonial Madras built across the Adyar River  in 1840. This bridge is named after John Elphinstone, 13th Lord Elphinstone and 1st Baron Elphinstone GCB GCH PC (1807 – 1860) John Elphinstone (13th Lord Elphinstone), the Governor of Madras (from 1837 to 1842). The age of the bridge is 174 years and it was connecting Adyar and Foreshore Estate. The heavy flood in Adyar washed away the heavy columns of the Elphinstone bridge and damaged the bridge from active use and the bridge was not found suitable to withstand heavy vehicular traffic. Hence  the historical bridge was closed for traffic and currently not in use. The new Thiru Vi.Ka bridge  (aka Adyar Bridge) measuring about 1025 ft (312.42 meter) long with three-lanes has been built  next to the old bridge at a cost of Rs. 58 lakh  and it was thrown open to the public in October 1973. The new bridge was named after the Tamil Scholar and freedom fighter Thiru Vi Kalyanasundaranar.

The sewer and water pipelines run across the 11-metre (36 feet) wide Elphinstone bridge and therefore entire stretch of the bridge is covered fully with concrete slabs. The actual Elphinstone bridge lies below this concrete slab and the pedestrians use this bridge to walk across the river. To encourage  pedestrians a flight of stairs is located on either side of the bridge.

It is learned that some anti-social elements take advantage to get into the bottom space of the bridge using the gap between the steps and misuse it. To discourage anti-social elements and to encourage bird watchers, bird-watching point with the green garden are being planned under phase II of restoration of the Adyar river estuary. The 58 acres phase I have been already implemented.


173-year-old Elphinstone Bridge gets a makeover. Deepa H. Ramakrishnan The Hindu Chennai  January 13, 2013

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