Thursday, March 31, 2005

More flyovers: boon or bane

The BCC plans more flyovers for the city.
Experts feel it’s not going to improve our deteriorating traffic situation
The Times of India

EIGHT flyovers and six grade separators later, Bangalore traffic is still chaotic. Now, the Bangalore City Corporation (BCC) has proposed to construct four new flyovers, eight grade separators, 11 road overbridges and underbridges and 13 skywalks and subways in the city. These are being touted as part of a long-term plan to decongest city roads. It’s not just the BCC, various other government agencies have also announced flyover and grade separator plans from time to time. Will more of them actually ease congestion or will they add to the chaos? BT asks the experts...

Where’s the space?
Traffic expert and government traffic advisor MN Sreehari says city roads are far too choked to accommodate extra flyovers. “I don’t recommend any more, especially inside the city. We have also advised the government that flyovers, underpasses and grade separators are only required on highways and ring roads. The existing in-city roads are far too narrow and if we do fit flyovers into the areas we have, we will only use up more space and traffic will not move smoothly, so it will be counter productive.”

Increased vehicle influx:
More flyovers and more grade separators will only mean more vehicles on the roads. Says civic activist, Swati Ramanathan, “It’s a misconception that adding more flyovers or grade separators are the answers to what ails the city in terms of traffic. Once such construction comes up, there will be more vehicles on the roads and then what will the authorities do to control the influx of vehicles that come in? It’s like trying to cram as much as possible in a small space. Plus these additions, especially if done in an unscientific manner, will interfere with the existing geographic space like houses, shops, buildings, trees. Plus, they must look more into providing space for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Think out of the box:
Motorists feel that several of the in-city flyovers are not serving the purpose they were built for. Businessman V Prasanna says that instead of easing traffic bottlenecks, some flyovers just add to them. “A case in point is the Richmond Circle flyover. In-city flyovers are an outdated concept in many western countries. Authorities abroad are increasingly opting for road tunnels. Instead of making arterial roads run through the heart of the city, they are choosing systems where larger roads service the city periphery and the city centre is largely pedestrianised. Road overbridges and underbridges, skyways and walkways are welcome, but people must be educated on their use. You still see people cross the road in the middle of traffic, though there is a skyway or a subway for them.”

Heed the experts:
Some years ago, the Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation commissioned a study, which was carried out by the Central Road Research Institute, on Traffic and transportation priorities for road corridors in Bangalore. Traffic expert CEG Justo says, “Based on that report and from the list of priority tasks the experts had identified, government agencies constructed some flyovers. If the work for the proposed flyovers is being done according to the list drawn up by the study, it is okay because those locations have been examined in detail.”

What else could work:
“Public transport is one solution that everyone seems to agree is the best, so the government must work on an effective mass transport option,” says Swati. “The existing public transport system must be improved and updated, only then will people use public transport more often.” Sreehari adds, “There is also a proposal to widen 45 roads. That would work better. Government agencies can look at roadwidening models that have been successful in other cities and implement them here. We discussed the problems that more flyovers could throw up and the government has promised to look into the matter.” Motorist Deepti Kishore says, “More skywalks and subways are welcome. Crossing some roads is a nightmare. But no more flyovers please. If we have an efficient bus system, I would be more than happy to take a bus to work every day.”


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