Would the much hyped Delhi-Vadodara-Mumbai expressway hold up to the water glass challenge? That was the first thing that businessline staffers tried on a test drive through the 8-lane motorway, being touted as India’s road to the future. Well, it did.

Taking a cue from Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari’s famous tea cup challenge where he sipped tea while travelling on the road at 140 km an hour, team businessline travelled over several kilometres at high speed with the water-filled glass on the car’s dashboard with absolutely no spillages.

The striking feature about the smooth-as-butter Delhi-Vadodara-Mumbai expressway is the quality of asphalt. But the project, snaking across 15,000 hectares, has other impressive infrastructural features. Hanging bridges, solar parks, public e-charging stations, separate crossings for wild animals and an automated speed management system are all wow factors.

Water spill challenge on the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway. No spill shows the smoothness of the highway

Water spill challenge on the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway. No spill shows the smoothness of the highway | Photo Credit: KAMAL NARANG

Make in India 2.0

The expressway is critical to India’s next phase of growth as the country makes a renewed push to transform into a global manufacturing hub. Though India is the world’s fastest growing emerging economy, it trails globally on infrastructure development indices, particularly in comparison to its northern neighbour — China.

The iconic 1,386-km-long India’s largest access-controlled greenfield expressway is a serious attempt to transform Asia’s third largest economy from a service sector power house into a manufacturing behemoth.

Such large-scale cross-country road projects are a serious attempt to remodel the logistics and transport sector, mainstay of a manufacturing economy, to not just become cost competitive, but also to become efficient and time sensitive.

For instance, the expressway will reduce travel time between Delhi and Mumbai by half to just 12 hours, which will also result in annual fuel savings of more than 320 million litres and cut CO2 emissions by 850 million kg.

It will also connect cities such as Kota, Indore, Jaipur, Bhopal, Vadodara and Surat between India’s political and commercial capitals passing through 93 PM Gati Shakti Economic Nodes, 13 ports, eight major airports and eight multi-modal logistics parks (MMLPs).

On our first drive, the ambitious highway impresses — the acid test, however, lies in how well it will be maintained.