Modernizing India's Infrastructure: The Road and Bridge Transformation

  • Published | 01 March 2024

India is undergoing major improvements to its road and bridge infrastructure through several initiatives and projects. The Bharatmala Pariyojana project aims to develop 34,800 km of highways and has increased construction speed significantly. Twenty Seven greenfield expressways are also being built. Rural roads development is gaining focus with the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana completing over 3.5 lakh km of rural roads. Upcoming initiatives like the Sagarmala project and Gati Shakti Master Plan aim to further optimize logistics and transport. New technologies like BIM and drones are also fast tracking road surveys and design.


India is riding a wave of massive infrastructure development, with the government spearheading the expansion process through increased investment and development initiatives. Transportation is a key aspect of the Indian economyMumbai Trans Harbour Link that has been improving over the years through road, rail, aviation, and waterway networks and they are the main factors of growth. This group of infrastructure projects is designed to improve connectivity, lower shipping and logistics costs, and place India among the world's economic leaders. According to the IMF, new roads and railways, which are aligned with the PM Gatishakti National Masterplan for multi-modal infrastructure development, will help India attain its dream of becoming a $5 trillion economy, which is $3.74 trillion at present.

It is a matter of pride for India that the second-largest road network in the world, which is 6.37 million kilometers in length, is our possession. In the last few years, there has been a dramatic rise in the country's highway construction speed from around 12 kilometers per day in 2014-15 to around 29 kilometers per day in 2021-22. The number of functional highways has gone up from 97,830 kilometers in 2014 to 145,155 kilometers today. On the other hand, the nine years of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) have seen the construction of more than 3.5 lakh kilometers of rural roads which have made all-weather roads free from all-weather roads connectivity to villages of India. The government's budget allocation for road infrastructure has had a rapid increase, now amounting to about ₹1.4 lakh crore in FY22-2023. Through the completion of strategic projects like the Atal Tunnel, the Dhola-Sadiya Bridge, and the Chenab River Bridge during a relatively short time frame, the government impresses the public with its inclusive governance and readiness to connect even the remotest regions of the country.

India’s Paving Innovative Developments in Road and Bridges Infrastructure

India is involved in the execution of highly ambitious infrastructure projects like the Chenab Bridge, which is the tallest arch railway bridge and is located near one of the highest altitudes, and an Indian Railway line that runs throughout its entire length. This bridge is a demonstration of the amazing engineering skills that Indians possess and is proof that a cohesive team, as leaders, can generate solutions that will in turn sustain the development of India.

The Indian government emphasizes infrastructure development and the government has developed schemes and policies within the framework of infrastructural development. The National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) in 2019 is an initiative that enables governments at the national level to focus on social and infrastructure projects including energy, roads, railways, and urban development projects worth INR 102 lakh crores. The Centre and States have the next to equal share of close to 40% each and the private sector has a 21% share. NIP also takes advantage of the PM GatiShakti Master Plan, which intends to intensify India's logistics system. In the Indian Budget 2023-24, the Government of India highlighted the necessity of stepping up the amount of money spent on infrastructure and nearly tripled its infrastructure spending to 3.3% of GDP against 2019-20 expenditure. INR 75000 crores, which is a budget for 100 projects is crucial towards the development of the comprehensive multimodal logistics infrastructure.

As of the end of July 2023, Indians’ total length of national highways amounted to 146,145 km. This figure showed a 60 percent increase from the April 2014 level of 91,287 km. The government aims to achieve this by 2030 with 1.3 times more as compared to the 2020 value which makes it 185,000 km and with 1.6 times more as compared to the 2020 value it should make it 237,000 km by 2047. The Bharatmala Pariyojana, which is the nation's largest infrastructure project, envisages the development of about 34,800 km of national highways. There would be around 27,000 km of this awarded and about 14,500 km already constructed by July 2023 with a capital expenditure of Rs 10.64 trillion As well as this, the building of 27 greenfield expressways is ongoing with a capital cost of Rs 4.5 trillion. The feather in the cap, however, is the construction of the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway, Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Expressway, Bangalore-Chennai Expressway, Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway and the one between Kanpur and Lucknow Expressway.

The emphasis given by the central government to the road sector is vividly illustrated in the uptick of Capital spending by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), which has gone from Rs. 0.31 trillion in 2013-14 to Rs. 2.59 trillion in 2023-24, with a 23% CAGR. Out of the capex of 50,000 crore rupees provisioned for the next financial year, about 60 percent has been allocated to the National Highways Authority of India or NHAI. In the last two years, the hybrid annuity model (HAM) share with 55 percent retained in projects awarding has been followed up with the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) constituting 44 percent. The government focuses on contributing to the BOT model which is intended to improve the quality of projects. Through this, it aims to increase the chunk of BOT projects from the current share of less than 5 percent to around 10 percent in the coming two years.

Key Initiatives and Their Impact

Bharatmala Pariyojana: This flagship program envisions an integrated network of highways spanning the nation. The project has significantly expedited the pace of highway construction, with India achieving an average construction rate of 37 km per day in 2022-23, a remarkable increase from 12.1 km per day in 2014-15.

Sagarmala Programme: Focusing on coastal and port-led development, this initiative aims to modernize India's ports, optimize logistics efficiency, and boost maritime trade.

Gati Shakti National Master Plan: This transformative plan promotes integrated infrastructure planning and implementation. Gati Shakti utilizes technology to break down silos between various ministries, enabling seamless coordination and accelerated project delivery.

Focus on Rural Roads: The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) has been instrumental in connecting rural habitations, providing much-needed access to essential services, markets, and opportunities for India's vast rural population.

Strategic Connectivity Projects: The construction of iconic bridges like the Chenab River Bridge (the world's highest railway bridge) and projects such as the Atal Tunnel have overcome geographical challenges, particularly in border and remote regions, thereby fostering national integration.

Bharatmala Pariyojana

Source: Ministry of Road Transport and Highways

Upcoming Expressways Projects in India

Upcoming Expressways Projects in India

According to the report, aided by the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), rural road development has also gained traction, with rural roads accounting for 71 percent of the overall road network in India.

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana

During the last decade, the Indian government’s rural road development projects have gained momentum and the authorities are currently engaged in rural road network development. This also is the case as the farmers, especially those who engage in the export market, depend on the rural roads that offer economic benefits like reducing the cost of production and time of transport.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) targets for two hundred thousand kilometers of National Highway Network to be finished by 2025. The aim is to construct the highest quality road infrastructure with the help of a plan-oriented and result-oriented approach. This year MoRTH plans to create an all-time high of 13,000 km of highway and to top it all, MoRTH is also setting a target to increase the speed of highway construction manifoldly. Many of the construction equipment players realize that the Indian market can be a future market for their equipment and solutions, consequently unveiling the latest solutions for road and highway construction. Humbly speaking, L&T's in-house development has been able to design and fabricate an entire set of equipment like Soil Compactors, Tandem Compactors, Mini Compactors, and Pneumatic Tyred Rollers.

India’s Infrastructure Strategy for Sustainability

Decarbonization is today a prominent topic in which sustainability is the key theme. Along with this, a lot of creative practices and techniques of road building are also being used in the Indian sector of roads that are aimed at reducing the environmental impact and improving the long-term viability of road projects. Among the alternatives to conventional aggregate materials are recycled aggregates, waste plastics, crumb rubber, steel slag, modified bitumen, geosynthetics, and fly ash, which are used to support sustainable development.

Modern technologies that involve the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM), precast construction, and virtual twins are taking root in highway projects. The government specifications providing 25% pre-cast concrete elements with the exceptions of foundation work for the national highway projects initiated within the 100 km range of the pre-cast concrete factories have been made mandatory. Besides the goal of reducing pollution, the approach is also to fasten constructing the project and beautify the area at the end of the construction. Besides, these firms are doing testing of robotics and automation in asphalt and concrete laying as well. Digital technologies are now an essential part of highway operation and maintenance, and the need for smart highway infrastructure increases along with the demand for connectivity. Electronic tollways, wireless sensors, and advanced traffic management systems are becoming a trend. The implementation of aerial differential GPS-LiDAR (light detection and ranging) drones for field surveys, and BIM (Building Information Modeling) for road design, have considerably fastened the pre-construction period.

These technologies like driver speed cameras, CCTV systems, and driving assistance systems are making road safety better. Energy-efficient lighting methods, LED street lights included, are being implemented to cut down on energy consumption and provide cost-saving maintenance solutions. These smart roads are not only conceptualized for energy generation but also they have a role to play in ensuring a greener planet.


In conclusion, India is making significant strides in road and bridge infrastructure development through initiatives like Bharatmala Pariyojana, Sagarmala Programme, and Gati Shakti National Master Plan. These projects aim to enhance connectivity, lower logistics costs, and position India as a global economic leader, with a focus on sustainability and innovative technologies to drive progress.

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