Monday, May 28, 2007


By R Krishnakumar and Hemanth C S, DH News Service, Bangalore:
With just ten months left for the scheduled opening of the international airport in Devanahalli the State Government is looking at options closer to reality to address an issue that threatens to hijack the airport boom: Devanahalli's distance from the City.

High-speed rail lines and six-lane expressways can wait. With just ten months left for the scheduled opening of the new greenfield international airport in Devanahalli, the State Government is looking at options closer to reality to address an issue that threatens to hijack the airport boom: Devanahalli’s distance from the City.
Though the NH 7 (Bangalore-Hyderabad) is tipped to take a huge volume of traffic to and from the new airport, the government is also supplementing it with development of a State Highway and minor connecting roads.
According to V P Baligar, Principal Secretary, Infrastructure Development Department, the immediate solution could be in the development of roads leading to Devanahalli.
From the Central Business District, the default route will be NH 7, through Yelahanka. The highway has been spruced up over the past year.
The Public Works Department, meanwhile, is trying to ensure that other approach roads are also in shape by April 2, 2008, the opening date for the airport that’s around 35 km from the City.
“The PWD is developing many roads near Devanahalli. Development of SH 104 is high on the agenda, as the State Highway provides connectivity to Devanahalli from more than one direction, including from Whitefield, Bagalur and Budigere,” Mr Baligar told Deccan Herald. From the Outer Ring Road direction, SH 104 provides connectivity to Devanahalli in the Nagawara-Kannur-Bagalur-Singahalli-Bettakote route.

Passenger rush
On launch, the airport is expected to handle around eight million passengers per year.
Around 22,000 passengers will be commuting between the City and the airport, everyday. Add the number of friends and relatives who accompany the passengers and the airport employees, the figure could be well in the excess of 80,000 per day. By all counts a mean figure, considering the minimal options of connectivity between Devanahalli and Bangalore.
From the Hoskote direction, the NH 207 connects to Devanahalli through Sulibele and Balepura. From NH 4 (in the Hoskote direction), commuters can pass through Chimsandra, Budigere and Bettakote, before reaching the airport.
However, spruced-up highways might just not be enough to ensure connectivity from Bangalore to the airport, considering the shape that some of the connecting roads near the airport are in.

Major work over
According to Mr Baligar, a major part of the connecting road upgrades is over and what’s left is integration of a few patches of village roads.
“As long-term plans, there’s the BMRDA Expressway and the high-speed rail line. However, we can’t bank entirely on them at this juncture because the airport will be ready by April next year.
There have to be some short-term alternatives to address immediate requirements,” Mr Baligar said.


DH: With just a year left for the airport to start flight operations, is BIAL satisfied with the State Government’s work on the various approach roads to the airport and the rail link?
AB: I’m happy that the government is undertaking various infrastructure development works very seriously. From the point of passengers and the environment, a rail link is needed. We already have a rail link; we just need to connect it to the airport. The State Government is also exploring additional road links to north of Bangalore.

DH: What are the benefits of the trumpet intersection of the main access road and NH 7?
AB: From NH 7, the airport is five kilometres away. The four-lane approach road will be developed by BIAL, parallel to the runway, linking the NH 7 to the terminal complex. This road, primarily serving the passenger terminal building, will also link the entire airport support facilities.

Work on the high-speed rail link between the City and the airport is on track, with the soil-testing being conducted on the proposed route.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited (DMRCL), which is being appointed by the State Government to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR), has been testing the soil in various locations including Chinnaswamy Stadium, Sankey Road, Mekhri Circle, Hebbal, Yelahanka and the airport site, to ascertain the load-bearing capacity of the elevated railway line.
The rail link will be integrated with the Metro Rail and the journey time to the airport from the check-in station is likely to be under 30 minutes.

On a Rs 482-crore budget, the 21.2-km expressway connecting Outer Ring Road to Devanahalli was announced with great fanfare by the Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority (BMRDA). The six-lane expressway — designed for a 180 kph speed — was expected to take a substantial chunk of the traffic load off NH 7, once the airport becomes operational.
However, residents and property owners in areas including Challakere, Vaddarapalya, Kylasanahalli and Dodda Gubbi are up in protest against alleged high-handedness by officials and discrepancies in the alignment survey. At present, boundaries are being marked by the surveyors and BMRDA has fixed a fresh deadline for completion of the expressway: any time between December, 2008 and March, 2009.


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