CREDIT : BANGALORE MIRROR
Looking at Seshadri Srinivasan, it’s hard to believe that this unassuming gentleman is responsible for the design of Mumbai’s newest landmark: the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. Yet, the whole behemoth, inaugurated on Tuesday, first took its present form in the sketches of this 77-year-old bridge designer.
“I’ve lost count of the number of bridges I’ve designed,” says Srinivasan, a 1958 post-graduate in structural engineering from Madras University. “In fact, it would be safe to say that I designed my 100th bridge a long time ago.”
And indeed, the man has quite a few famous bridges to his credit, from the JJ Flyover that was completed in 2002 to the world-renowned Jamarat Bridge in the holy city of Mecca, which is used by Muslims during Haj in the stoning-of-the-devil ritual.
Still, it took three attempts before he could find the ideal mix of elegance and utility with his designs in Mumbai.
In 1986, he had submitted six designs for the Thane Creek bridge. “At that time, the UP government had won the bid, and my design came in second,” he says.
His second foray was the JJ Flyover: a purely utilitarian project. It was only with the Sea Link that Srinivasan seems completely satisfied.
Srinivasan’s work on the bridge began in March 2003 when his firm Dar Al-Handsah was awarded the design project.
“Our design brief was to look at a cablestay bridge. Of course, this brief went through myriad changes,” he says, smiling. “Earlier, it was a single tower, which would carry both decks on a single support. This meant both carriageways (roads) would have to be built simultaneously. Then, when plans changed to the present-day two towers, the design got simplified.
“But this meant more expenditure, resources and spending more time on the project.” But still, Srinivasan loves his creations like a doting father. “Show me any bridge that you think looks better than this Sea Link,” he says proudly, while quickly adding that bridge-building is not only about aesthetics.
When working on any such structure, designers have to consider various factors such as meteorological reports which describe wind speeds, height of waves, etc, he says.
“It has to be built without risk – ease in building is one of the most important factors that should be considered during the design stage. Also, one needs to factor in the load it has to carry. After all, the bridge has to last for a good 120 years,” he adds. “I believe in a structure that’s elegant from each and every angle,” he says, staring at pictures of the Sea Link in his office