Thursday, June 30, 2005

Airport Ahead

The Bangalore International Airport at Devanahalli is finally taking off. BT surveys the infrastructure en-route to the airport
The Times of India


The 34-35 km stretch from the city (Vidhana Soudha) to the proposed airport consists of heterogeneous traffic. Once the airport comes up, the number of vehicles is expected to increase from 12,000 PCU (passenger car units) to 15,000 PCU. Traffic advisor to the government and TEST chairman MN Sreehari says speed lanes are vital on the existing six-lane expressway for smooth traffic flow. “Most expressways are designed for speed. There must be a clear demarcation for a fast lane, only vehicles moving between 80-120 km/hr should be allowed in that lane. Slow moving vehicles must have separate lanes, otherwise accidents will happen in mixed traffic. With a speed lane, getting to the new airport should only take about 35-40 minutes from the city. More traffic personnel will also be required to man the route.”

Road and rail:

Roads leading to the the six-lane highways constructed by the National Highway Authority of India need to be well maintained and potholefree. Former BCC chief and chief secretary A Ravindra says road infrastructure enhancements should be a priority to improve access to the new airport. “The municipal limits are till Hebbal, so the BCC must spend more on maintaining roads till there as traffic density will be high. After Hebbal limits, the authorities that construct the roads must be held accountable for regular repair and maintenance. A rail link to the airport, like train shuttle services abroad which connect the airport to the heart of the city, must also be introduced.” Sources in the Indian railway authority say plans are afoot to construct a railway terminal at the airport, which will enable a special shuttle from Cantonment railway station to the new airport, to be run.

Lighting and signage:

Ensuring that signage leading to the airport is in place and adequate lighting for those signs is imperative. What also needs to be kept in mind is the needs of international travellers from abroad. V Ravichandar, trustee, Ideas for Governance, says international signage and lighting norms have to be looked at. “Visibility and placement is key for both lighting and signage. Also, besides using more than one language, visuals must be incorporated in the signage. Materials used must be all-weather and reflective. We know that power outages happen on our roads, so lighting backup must be organised on trunk routes. Norms already exist, we must pick the best practices and incorporate them in the best manner.”

Green cover:

With the airport finally taking shape, development in the surrounding areas is bound to peak. Besides, Devanahalli already faces a water shortage. Does that mean the area’s green cover and natural resources will decline in the name of development? The outline development plan (ODP) notified by the Bangalore International Airport Area Planning Authority (BIAAPA) states that no development will be allowed to destroy the natural resources in Devanahalli and surrounding areas. Says a planning authority official, “The airport will be encircled by some of the most eco-friendly settlements. The airport is also being made a rain-water harvesting model. No development will be permitted on the natural river valleys in the area.”


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