Chenani-Nashri Tunnel and NH44 (Old NH 1A) Widening | Jammu and Kashmir, India
Located in northern India, bordered by China to the north and east and Pakistan to the west, the state of Jammu and Kashmir is known for its scenic landscape, ancient temples and mosques, and castles.
Srinagar was connected to Jammu and the rest of India by old National Highway 1A, a narrow two-lane highway passing through treacherous terrain and some of the steepest landscapes in the world. Widening and realignment of the highway, including new all-weather tunnels through steep rock beds, were needed to improve safety, decrease travel time and minimize closings during adverse weather conditions.
In 2004, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) selected Louis Berger in joint venture with LRP Consultants to prepare a feasibility study, a detailed project report (DPR) and engineering designs for four-laning the Udhampur to Banihal section of National Highway 1A, now part of National Highway 44. This would ultimately include replacing a 41-kilometer (25.5-mile) mountain road with the 9-kilometer (5.6-mile) Chenani-Nashri tunnel - India’s longest road tunnel.
The scope of work included:
- Determining the technical, financial and economic viability of the project.
- Preparing a detailed project report for rehabilitation and upgrading of the two-lane highway to a four-lane highway.
- Assessing the environmental and social impact of the project, including cultural properties, natural habitats and household resettlement.
- Identifying possible improvements in the existing alignment and alternatives for bypassing congested or treacherous locations.
- Preparing detailed designs for highway pavements and overlays, bridges, cross-drainage and service roads.
- Preparing detailed designs for tunnels according to the New Austrian Tunneling Method (NATM), including civil and electro-mechanical works, ventilation and lighting.
- Preparing tender documentation for international and local competitive bidding.
- Conducting public consultations with local residents, NGOs and other stakeholders.
Officially inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2017, the single-tube, bi-directional Chenani-Nashri tunnel (also known as the Patnitop tunnel) is equipped with state-of-the-art security systems and smart features such as integrated traffic control, surveillance, ventilation, fire-fighting and emergency communication systems.
The tunnel reduces the travel distance between Jammu and Srinagar, the state’s two largest cities, by 30 kilometers (18.6 miles), cuts travel time by about two hours, and is anticipated to boost tourism and economic growth in the region. The highway realignment will also help preserve forests in the ecologically sensitive Patnitop area of the state.