Mahatma Gandhi Setu (bridge) also called Gandhi Setu or Ganga Setu in Patna is the Asia's 2nd longest river bridge and also longest cantilever bridge of Asia. Length of Ganga Setu in Patna is 5.75km and was inaugurated in 1982 by Indira Gandhi with the cost Rs 87.22 crore. It is also one of the tourist’s spots in Patna, Bihar. Mahatma Gandhi Setu connects Patna in the south to Hajipur in the north of Bihar.
The bridge was approved by the Central Government in 1969 and built by Gammon India Limited over a period of ten years, from 1972 to 1982 with total expenditure of Rs 87.22 crore at that time. It was built to connect North Bihar with the rest of Bihar and part of national highway 19 (NH19). . Before this bridge was constructed, Rajendra Setu, opened in 1959, was the only link to North Bihar. The Indian postal department issued a commemorative postage stamp on Landmark Bridges of India: Mahatma Gandhi Setu of denomination 0500 Paise on 17 August 2007.
Before Mahatma Gandhi setu was built in Patna, people going to north Bihar had to cross river Ganga by boat, a ship or a steamer. Other option left with the people was to take a rail route which was very long. But with inauguration of Gandhi Setu in Patna, this distance and pain of traveling to north Bihar was greatly reduced. Its importance can be judged from the fact that more than 40,000 vehicles pass this bridge everyday.
Mahatma Gandhi bridge in Patna constructed by Gammon India. The bridge is considered to be an engineering marvel by many. The bridge has 45 spans of 121 meters each and one span of 65.53 meters on both sides. Cantilever slabs with hinge bearings and box girders were used. This kind of technology being used back in the 1970s truly makes this one of the best feats of Indian engineering. The deck provides for a 7.5 metres (25 ft) wide two lane roadway for IRC class 70 R loading with footpaths on either side. The cantilever segmental construction method was adopted to construct this mega bridge. Each span has two cantilever beams on both sides which are free to move at the ends. It has two lanes one upstream and the other downstream each with a width of around 6m. Both the lanes are also free from each other and are not connected anywhere. It was constructed by using 3 meter pre-casted parts being joined at both ends to complete the span. The Spans are connected by using a Protrusion which is free to move longitudinally also along the river flow. In upwards and downwards direction it is such that it allows vibration to transfer smoothly to the next span while vehicular movement without much discreteness.
In recent times, the bridge has been witnessing major traffic chaos and accidents due to exceeding number of vehicles passing over it and regularly overloading the structure. Over 85,000 vehicles pass through Gandhi Setu along with 12,000 pedestrians daily. The bridge is now in a dilapidated condition owing to the massive overload caused by thousands of vehicles passing by. Heavy exceeding traffic has caused a rise of pollution and accidents. Chaos and congestion in the form of long traffic jams are a daily affair. After 15 years of failed efforts made by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the repair work for the bridge in January 2017. The existing superstructure shall be dismantled, and a complete rehabilitation is to be done. Meanwhile, two pontoon bridges running parallel to the setu have been constructed to facilitate decongestion of overflowing traffic.
Patna Railway Station is at a distance of about 8 km from the bridge. Patna Airport is at a distance of 14 km from the bridge.