Friday, November 20, 2009

The sheer volume of traffic on Old Airport Road

The sheer volume of traffic on Old Airport Road, the tech-corridor, is compounded by too many signals and U-turns

If one were to decide the importance of a road in Bangalore by the number of traffic problems that plague it, then the Old Airport Road is right there on top. Notwithstanding the construction of the flyover at Domlur junction and shifting of the airport, this road leading to the Information Technology Park-Bangalore (ITPB) through Marathalli has always been notorious for its chaotic traffic.
A drive on this road from MG Road to ITPB takes around 90 minutes - all for a distance of less than 20 kms. The travel becomes excruciating during peak hours as most of the motorists end up wasting time waiting at traffic intersections for the signal to turn green! Another strange feature of this road is the fact that traffic jams take place in shifts here: The first snarl starts at 6:45-7 am when employees of HAL start reporting for work. The second snarl occurs between 8:30-9 am when techies hit the road to reach ITPB-Whitefield areas. The third snarl occurs between 9:30-10:30 am when office-goers travel towards the central part of the city. Traffic flow eases between 12 noon and 3 pm. Later, the shift begins in the reverse order. Of the several bottlenecks on the road towards ITBP, the first bottleneck is at Manipal Hospital where vehicles have to take a U-turn to enter Diamond District, an integrated township. The other major snarl points are HAL Junction and Marathalli bridge junction.
Bangalore Mirror
did a test drive starting from Domlur bus stand to ITPB through Marathalli, which is the route many a techie from Koramangala, Indiranagar and South Bangalore take every morning. Despite all the road engineering solutions in place on the stretch, the 17- kilometre stretch was a test of endurance for us.
We started on the stretch at 8.30 am after thousands of HAL employees walked into the factory. It was also the time when the rest of the work force was getting started to reach their offices. We had company from IT employees, college students, doctors of the hospitals that line it on their way to work. Caught at the traffic signal in front of Manipal Hospital we spent close to 20 minutes watching other stalled drivers looking resigned to their fate. This junction was made worse by drivers who needed to take a U-turn. Many of them intended to make this turn from the left side of the road that left the rest of the traffic messed up. The same was the case at the medium gap near Total Mall where U-turn again slowed the traffic, despite a constable in place.
By the time we hit Marathalli, we had crossed six signals. However, the problem in Marathalli was of discount lovers looking for parking space. There was very little of that available even at the largest discount market. Though we managed to avoid that rush, many frequent travellers who ply on the road at around 10. 30 am complain of it.
Making our way through the early shoppers who had begun to trickle in, we hit the junction at Kundalahalli, where we took a left to enter ITPL. Weaving through the red Volvo buses and private cars, we finally reached our destination. The basic issue on the entire stretch is the sheer volume of traffic, which is aggravated
It is the largest discount market in the country. From Adidas to Nike to Reebok to Allen Solly, you find all brands here. On any given week-end, thousands of shoppers, especially youth, swarm the area. But Marathalli is not a paradise: Lack of parking space has turned it into a traffic nightmare.With cars and twowheelers parked on either side of the road, travelling through Marathalli is a back-breaking exercise. Absence of footpaths forces shoppers to walk on the roads. Though the traders have submitted several representations to the civic authorities seeking parking lots, a positive response continues to evade them.The result: Everybody suffers!
According to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike’s development plan titled ‘Our Bangalore Vision and Goal (2009-12)’ that was unveiled recently, a signal-free corridor between Vellara Junction to Whitefield via Kundalahalli has been proposed. The length of the corridor is 25.5 km and the cost of the project is Rs 172 crore to build suitable flyovers and underpasses. A total of 10 traffic signals will be converted into a non-stop drive zone. A detailed project report has been submitted to the government, but a decision is awaited.


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