Thursday, January 21, 2010

Elevated road promises speed at a cost

Elevated road promises speed at a cost
Sandeep Moudgal , Bangalore, Jan 20, DHNS

Despite escalation of cost and a 15-month delay, the tollway is expected to ease Hosur Road chaos

The second longest uninterrupted elevated highway in the country is all set to open on Hosur Road here on Friday. This 9.5 kilometre elevated stretch, built by the Bangalore Elevated Tollway Limited (BETL), promises to help a commuter reach Electronic City from Bommanhalli in less than 15 minutes. Motorists could enjoy a free ride for a short duration before the toll system commences.

Initially scheduled to open in September 2008, the elevated portion was to cost Rs 765 crore. But a 15-month delay has added another Rs 115 crore to the project cost. “The construction companies have cited the steep increase in the market rates for cement and steel over the past year as one reason for the cost escalation,” said a National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) official.

But the heavy price burden borne by the consortium will not be shifted to the Government or the commuter, the official said. “Nothing will change (toll rates and the government share),” he said. The Consortium of Nagarjuna Construction Company-Maytas Infra-Soma Enterprises Ltd has totally borne the cost of Rs 880 crore for the elevated stretch from Silk Board Junction to Electronic City.

Traffic de-congestion

The four-lane elevated highway with service roads and four more lane roads below, is expected to reduce the traffic congestion along the NH-7 stretch. “We expect the over-saturated traffic along this stretch to ease. But it will only ease marginally over the next one month,” said Additional Commissioner (Traffic), Praveen Sood.

“We have learnt from our past accounts along the Devanhalli flyover where there were 30 fatalities in the first month after its opening. There will be constant monitoring of speed limits and vehicle movement on the highway,” said Sood.

The City police will provide an initial support system, after which the entire traffic management will be handed back to the consortium. “The BETL is already providing cranes and other equipment for emergency situations on the elevated tollway. Variable Message Signboard and Cameras are placed all along the stretch,” said Sood. The Traffic Police will have interceptors on both sides of the stretch to monitor the speed limits.

Tollway minus BMTC

Meanwhile, the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has decided not to use the tollway to ply its buses. “There is sufficient space below to ply our buses,” said BMTC Managing Director, Sayed Pasha. According to him, shifting or addition of bus bays will be looked into only if needed along the stretch.

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