The construction of the longest bridge on the Manali-Leh highway in Himachal Pradesh has been completed. Border Roads Organization (BRO) sources said that the 360-meter-long bridge over the Bhaga River in Darcha took nearly 10 years to build due to difficult terrain and inclement weather. The construction work on the bridge was also suspended for some time due to administrative reasons.
This steel bridge is known as the Barsi Bridge. It is the second-longest bridge of its kind in the country second after Colonel Chewang Rinchen Setu on the Shyok River. The river flows en route to Daulat Beg Oldi in Ladakh – the world’s highest landing ground.
To support the bridge, pillars have been erected in five places within the river in full length. The bridge has been constructed by 70 road construction companies of BRO. The same unit also constructed a 100-meter steel truss bridge connecting the northern portal of the Atal Tunnel under Rohtang Pass. This was inaugurated on 3rd October 2020 on the Manali-Leh Highway at Keylong near Sissu.
The Bhaga River is a tributary of the Chenab River and originates from Suraj Tal, a few kilometers south of the Baralacha Pass. Previously there was a small old bridge at the bottom of the river, which was an unpaved track between the river banks. Traffic was interrupted when floods, rock hazards, or river water surged, especially during rains.
It is an important alternative route connecting Ladakh. The BRO is also upgrading the Manali-Leh route, a double-lane route. It touches almost 17,500 feet elevation at some of the world’s highest motorable passes such as Baralacha La, Tanglang La, Nakee La, and Lachung La.
About 90 percent of the work on this route has been completed. Proposed tunnels are built under these passes, like the Atal tunnel. The Manali-Leh road was also closed for traffic during winter due to snowfall but this double-lane route would be suitable for use in all seasons.