The Kamshet Tunnel or Kamshet 1& 2 tunnel is Maharashtra’s longest road tunnel. It is built on the prestigious Mumbai-Pune Expressway road. The two-tube and three-lane tunnel is 1.843 km long and is also called Kamshet-West Tunnel.
The Mumbai-Pune Expressway
The Kamshet Tunnel is one of the six tunnels that one passes through on the journey from Mumbai to Pune on the Expressway. It was built when the expressway between Mumbai and Pune was constructed to ease traffic and decrease travel time. It is an important link between the financial capital of India – Mumbai, and Pune, also known as the cultural capital of Maharashtra.
The expressway is distinguished to be India’s first six-lane tolled Expressway for high-speed and access control. It is 94.5 km in distance and makes traveling between Mumbai and Pune within three hours of time. Before the expressway was opened for operations in 2002, the fastest way to travel to Pune from Mumbai or vice-versa was to take the railway route. The highway between the two cities used to have a lot of traffic and was quite accident prone especially in monsoons due to the Sahyadri mountain region in between. It used to take almost 7 to 8 hours to drive on the highway to reach either destination. According to a study, almost 400 persons per year were killed in accidents on the old Mumbai-Pune Highway.
With the opening of the Expressway, the travel from Mumbai to Pune or vice-versa has become hassle-free. This has tremendously helped the businesses existing in both the cities especially the IT sector. Also, the number of accidents has gone down comparatively. Initially, the expressway did not have a speed limit, but since 2009 there is a speed limit of 80 km/hour or 50 mph for private cars. The entire route, which goes through the mountain and valleys of the popular hill stations of Lonavala-Khandala is a pleasant drive. It has also increased social and cultural interactions between the two cities. The expressway has also boosted tourism in the small hill station town of Lonavala.
Construction of the Expressway and the Kamshet Tunnel
After a feasibility study in 1990, the Government of Maharashtra entrusted the work to build the Expressway to Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation in 1997. The actual work started on the expressway in 1999 and it was built at the estimated cost of Rs 1630 crores. The work to build the tunnels including the Kamshet Tunnel was given to the Konkan Railway Corporation. The Konkan Railway Corporation’s engineering team is a well-experienced team when it comes to building tunnels. Having built 91 tunnels on the Konkan Rail Route, which falls on a similar terrain of the Western Ghats, the Konkan Rail Corporation team built the tunnels on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway with the same efficacy. Modern machinery and advanced technology were used to dig out the tunnels. Separate tunnels were built for traffic in each direction and the cost to build had been around Rs 200 crores. The Kamshet tunnel along with others has been built with modern facilities for ventilation, lighting and firefighting vehicles.
How to travel through the Kamshet Tunnel
The Kamshet Tunnel 1& 2 is the last of the tunnels on the expressway if you drive from Mumbai side just before reaching Pune. You will cross the tunnel after driving through the curvaceous mountain valley of Lonavala.If you want to enjoy a drive on India’s first expressway and enjoy the lush green hills of the Sahyadri then drive on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. You will sure cross all the tunnels including the Kamshet Tunnel. And if you wait for some more years than you might get to pass by an 8-kilometer-long tunnel, which is being proposed to be built on the same route connecting Khopoli to Lonavala.