Thursday, June 10, 2010

Monsoon blues for expressway

Monsoon blues for expressway

Water takes time to drain off hosur road tollway; might need to be shut during spells of heavy rain

Shwetha S. Bangalore



It promised to be a world-class expressway. Just six months after its high-profile inauguration, though, the 9.95 km-long Bangalore Elevated Tollway Limited (BETL) stretch connecting the main city to the IT hub, used also by traffic from neighbouring Tamil Nadu, faces the threat of being rendered unusable in heavy rain.
Water stagnates and takes a long while to drain off, leaving traffic stranded on the expressway that was constructed at a cost of Rs700 crore.
BETL manager Brigadier Deshpande MR said, "During the heavy downpour, especially in the evenings, some places on the expressway witness water stagnation for some time. This slows down traffic movement. To avoid such inconvenience for regular commuters, we have planned to close down the expressway when there is heavy rain. The elevated expressway is designed in such a way that it can take up to 50mm/hour of rain, not more. If the rains are heavier than that, it might be advisable to close down the expressway. We are able to view the levels of water stagnation through CCTV cameras. We will monitor the situation and shut down the expressway even for VIP movement during emergency. Unfortunately, there are very few regular users of the expressway headed to the Electronics City. Only about 10% of the regular traffic that way uses the expressway. For the rest, it is mostly traffic from beyond the city."
Chief executive of the Electronics City Industries Association Prakash Rao said, "At times, when there is a heavy downpour, we have witnessed water stagnation in some places on the expressway. Water takes a little while to drain off. If BETL closes the road during heavy downpours, at least commuters won't get stranded and be put to unnecessary inconvenience. It would be a good thing to do, as it will save those who might otherwise have used the road at night."
Officials in BETL expressed caution: "We do not have powers to take a call about closing the expressway, even for a short duration. Commuters who have taken the smart cards will feel cheated. So closure might happen in an emergency, but chances are slim," said one officer who wished to remain anonymous.
A commuter on the expressway, M Nagaraj, said, "It is true that during heavy rain, water stagnates on some stretches of the road that are low-lying. And it is also true that water takes a little while to drain, slowing down the pace of traffic. But closing the expressway during heavy rain is hardly a solution. Work should be done to ensure proper drainage, so that water does not stagnate for long."
Susan Kumar, another commuter who uses the expressway regularly and executive secretary of Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw of Biocon, said, "I have witnessed the stoppage of traffic when rain is heavy and continuous. Traffic on the expressway was halted for nearly half an hour once. It really does not matter if they close the expressway, we will, any way, get stuck in traffic near Madiwala."
MN Sreehari, traffic expert, said, "Stagnant water is likely to damage the road. Potholes could form
more easily."

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