Vidyasagar Setu

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Vidyasagar Setu
Coordinates22°33′25″N 88°19′40″E / 22.5569°N 88.3278°E / 22.5569; 88.3278
CarriesRoadway only. Two-way with 3 general-purpose lanes in each direction
CrossesHooghly River
LocaleKolkata and Howrah, West Bengal
Official nameVidyasagar Setu
Other name(s)Second Hooghly Bridge
Maintained byHooghly River Bridge Commissioners
DesignCable-stayed bridge
Total length822.96 metres (2,700 ft)
Width35 metres (115 ft)
Longest span457.2 metres (1,500 ft)
Clearance below26 metres (85 ft)
Constructed byBraithwaite, Burn & Jessop Construction Company
Opened10 October 1992; 31 years ago (10 October 1992)
Daily traffic~90,000 vehicles (as of 2018)[1]
TollYes, toll bridge

Vidyasagar Setu, also known as the Second Hooghly Bridge, is a toll bridge over the Hooghly River in West Bengal, India, linking the cities of Kolkata and Howrah.

Opened in 1992, with a total length of 823 metres (2,700 ft), Vidyasagar Setu is the first[2] and longest cable-stayed bridge in India and one of the longest in Asia. It was the second bridge to be built across the Hooghly River; the first, the Howrah Bridge (also known as Rabindra Setu) 3.7 kilometres (2.3 mi) to the north, was completed in 1943. Named after the education reformer Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, it cost ₹388 crore to build. The project was a joint effort between the public and private sectors, under the control of the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC).[3]

The importance of the bridge has increased manifold since 2013, as the West Bengal State Secretariat had shifted its office to Nabanna, located adjacent to the bridge on the Howrah side.

Initially, under the toll collection regime of the HRBC, daily traffic was recorded to be a minimum of 28,000 vehicles and a maximum of 39,000 vehicles in 2000, but fell to a maximum of around 30,000 vehicles by December 2002, when the management of the toll plaza was handed over to a private firm. Subsequently, the daily traffic reached a minimum of 45,000 vehicles and a maximum of 61,000 vehicles by early 2008, against a maximum capacity of 85,000 vehicles per day. The original management of the toll revenue collection by HRBC was consequently criticized for corruption and significant loss of revenue.[4]


The bridge seen with the Prinsep Ghat

Population and commercial activity grew rapidly after India gained independence in August 1947. The only link across the Hooghly River, the Howrah Bridge between Howrah and Kolkata, was subject to much traffic congestion, with over 85,000 vehicles every day. This necessitated planning for a new bridge across the river so that it could connect to the major cities of Mumbai (Bombay), Delhi and Chennai (Madras) through the national highways located close to the bridge.[5]

The foundation stone for the bridge was laid by Jyoti Basu on 20 May 1972.[6] The bridge took 20 years to complete and cost 3.88 billion (equivalent to 30 billion or US$370 million in 2023),[5][7] but during seven of those years there was no construction activity.[5] The bridge is named after the 19th-century Bengali education reformer Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar.[3][8] Work on the cable-stayed bridge started with the construction of the well curb on the Kolkata bank on 3 July 1979.[9]

There are three other bridges on the Hooghly River connecting Kolkata with Howrah district: Vivekananda Setu built in 1930, (road-cum-rail bridge)  – the first to be commissioned,[10] and which had become old and needed repairs; Howrah Bridge, a cantilever bridge commissioned in 1943, now renamed as Rabindra Setu (since 1965 in honour of the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore);[11] and Nivedita Setu (named after Sister Nivedita), also known as the Second Vivekananda Setu, which is 50 metres (160 ft) downstream from the old Vivekananda Setu and was commissioned on 4 June 2007.[10][12] Kona Expressway and Vidyasagar Setu experienced an exponential rise in the volume of traffic over a couple of years. Over 100,000 vehicles take the expressway to reach Kolkata via Vidyasagar Setu.[13]


Vidyasagar Setu in July 2023
Vidyasagar Setu in 2011

The bridge was designed by Schlaich Bergermann & Partner, and checked by Freeman Fox & Partners and Bharat Bhari Udyog Nigam Limited. Construction was carried out by the consortium of "The Braithwaite Burn and Jessop Construction Company Limited" (BBJ). The Hooghly River Bridge Commission (HRBC) was responsible for the commissioning operations of the bridge.[8][14][5] Construction began on 3 July 1979, and the bridge was commissioned on 10 October 1992 by the Hooghly River Bridge Commission.[7][8][14]

Architectural features[edit]

One of the four pylons of the Vidyasagar Setu
Vidyasagar Setu 2002
Vidyasagar Setu in 2002

Vidyasagar Setu is a cable-stayed bridge, with 121 cables in a fan arrangement, built using steel pylons 127.62 metres (418.7 ft) high.[14][5] With a total length of 823 metres (2,700 ft),[8] Vidyasagar Setu is the longest cable-stayed bridge in India (the longer 3rd Narmada Bridge in Gujarat is an extradosed bridge).[15][8] The deck is made of composite steel-reinforced concrete with two carriageways. The total width of the bridge is 35 metres (115 ft), with 3 lanes in each direction and a 1.2-metre (3 ft 11 in)-wide footpath on each side. The deck over the main span is 457.20 metres (1,500.0 ft) long.[14] The two side spans are supported by parallel wire cables and are 182.88 metres (600.0 ft) long.[14][5] Vidyasagar Setu is a toll bridge. It has capacity to handle more than 85,000 vehicles in a day.[5]

The design of the bridge differs slightly from other bridges, which are of live load composite construction. The difference is in the dead load design concept adopted for this bridge and concreting of the side spans done with support provided by the intermediate trestle. The deck is designed with a grid structure of girders. One set of girders are at the end and another set in the middle, which are braced by girders spaced on an average at 4.2 metres (14 ft) centre to centre.[14]

A deck crane was used for the construction of the main span of the bridge. A specially designed crane of 45 tonne capacity was used to erect the pylons of the bridge.[14] The structural steel used in the bridge weighs about 13,200 tonnes.[14] The pylons, which are 128 metres (420 ft) in height, are designed as free standing portals.[14] They are provided with two cross portal members, one at the bottom and another at the top, below the pylon head. The deck is connected to the end piers by bolts embedded in the chambers of the piers. Pylons made of 4 m × 4 m (13 ft × 13 ft) steel boxes of riveted construction were raised on the two side spans of the bridge; one set is on the Kolkata side and the other is on the Howrah side.[14] The six pylons on the Kolkata side of the bridge were installed using 75 MT and 50 MT cranes, while on the Howrah end, a single 50 MT crane was used. Anchorage of the pylon with the base of piers was effected through tie rods anchored in the piers.[14] Cables were erected from the four pylon heads with the help of 32 hoist frames. The hoist frames were mounted on top of each pylon. Sheave blocks, winches and snatch blocks were used to facilitate the lifting, and cables inside the pylons were stressed with jacks. Pressure grouting was performed to fill the voids between the wire and the high-density polyethylene (HDPE) tubes. A two tonne tower crane, fixed inside the pylons, lifted the cables into position.[14]

The bridge illuminated in the night

The bridge has been subject to prototype wind tunnel tests at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. Bearings are used in vertical and horizontal directions, with grouted collars in four segments at the two end piers and horizontal bearings at the two middle piers to achieve stability against lateral movement. Maurer Söhne expansion joints were provided to allow for 400-millimetre (16 in) horizontal expansion at the free ends.[14] 115-millimetre (4.5 in) fixed-end slab seal type expansion joints were used for horizontal expansion of the joints.[14] Other essential components provided in the bridge structure are the handrails, lightning arresters, crash barriers, gas service support structures, telephone and electric lines, lifts in the pylons, and a maintenance gantry.[14]

Post-construction plans[edit]

The bridge during sunset

Over the years, several accidents have occurred on the bridge resulting in traffic congestion, and sometimes closure of the bridge for a few hours at a time.[16] To relieve the heavy traffic congestion at the entry to the bridge, the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC) plan to build two one-way exit and entry ramps. These are planned with a semi-circular layout in the form of side wings, which will facilitate easier flow of traffic before the toll plaza on roads leading to the Howrah railway station.[16] There are also plans to improve the lighting on the bridge by installing LED lamps and searchlights covering the four pylons, the bridge spans, cables and under-deck. An electronic toll collection system was scheduled to be introduced by 2014, to help improve the flow of traffic across the bridge.[16]

The traffic projections for the bridge at the planning stage have not been reached. A traffic survey carried out during one week in June 2012 recorded traffic of 29,000 vehicles over the bridge in comparison to a projected 85,000. A survey conducted during the same period in June 2012 indicated a figure of 31,865 vehicles, though it is reported by the concerned traffic and transportation engineer that the rate of increase in traffic has been one percent per year on the basis of traffic surveys carried out from the time of commissioning of the bridge. The reason for the fall in traffic during 2012 is attributed to the peak monsoon effect during the survey period.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pay more on 2nd Hooghly bridge | Kolkata News - Times of India". The Times of India.
  2. ^ "Vidyasagar Setu / 2nd Hooghly Bridge - Kolkata, West Bengal". Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  3. ^ a b "History". Kolkata Port Trust: Government of India. Archived from the original on 13 April 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2011.
  4. ^ Bandyopadhyay, Krishnendu (8 December 2008). "Rs 50 crore lost in toll plaza scam: Survey". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 5 January 2017. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Vidyasagar setu". Shibpur International website. Archived from the original on 8 February 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2011.
  6. ^ Bhattacherje 2009, p. 242
  7. ^ a b Bhattacherje 2009, p. 273
  8. ^ a b c d e "Vidyasagar Setu". Official Website of Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners. Archived from the original on 23 December 2012. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  9. ^ Bhattacherje 2009, p. 252
  10. ^ a b "Design and Construction Features of Nivedita Bridge". NBM Construction Information. Com. Archived from the original on 5 February 2013.
  11. ^ "Oldest still the busiest". Official web site of Howrah Bridge Kolkata managed by National Informatics Centre. Archived from the original on 8 May 2013. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  12. ^ "The Nivedita Setu". The Hindu Business Line. Archived from the original on 22 September 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
  13. ^ Banerjee, Tamaghna (19 January 2016). "Bridge snarl reaches toll plaza". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 23 September 2016.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Gunguly & Battarcharya 2000, pp. 113–4.
  15. ^ Mishra, Sohit (7 March 2017). "India's longest cable-bridge in Bharuch inaugurated by PM Modi; all you need to know about the 1.4 km bridge". Retrieved 6 July 2018.
  16. ^ a b c d Bandyopadhyay, Krishnendu (28 June 2012). "Vidyasagar Setu ramps to decongest traffic". The Times of India. Retrieved 5 January 2013.