Thursday, February 21, 2008

Experience the magic

Experience the magic

Bangalore: It was a day everyone was waiting for. When the magic box underpass at Cauvery junction on T Chowdaiah Road was thrown open to traffic on Wednesday evening, it created quite a buzz. Bikers and car drivers could not wait to drive through the ‘box’ to figure out what it was all about.
Initially billed as a three-day project, it took all of 34 days to be completed. The eager anticipation of Bangaloreans began to turn into exasperation. But on Wednesday evening, everyone — curious onlookers, residents of nearby localities and senior citizens gathered around the site during the inauguration — agreed it was worth the wait and trouble.
The BBMP decided on a quiet, informal inauguration, but that could not prevent a carnival-like atmosphere. While peakhour traffic was caught unawares, but that did not deter them from waving at the crowds, the BBMP and police personnel. Pillion riders whistled and clapped as they drove through the magic box. Motorists were quick to observe the new signages directed towards Bellary Road and MG Road at the mouth of the underpass.
The underpass might have taken over a month to be installed, but it helped BBMP plan its projects better, felt many citizens, who lauded the project.
“I have been visiting the site for the last 34 days. Often, I felt there could have a simpler solution. But with time, I began to appreciate their efforts. The junction is now signal-free. They need to be careful with their next project as utility lines are all below the road. Another aspect they need to look into is pedestrian crossings,’’ said 75-year-old K N Visveswariah, retired joint director (agriculture) and resident of Lower Palace Orchards.
Traffic cops hailed the project. But they also rued the lack of regulation of private vehicles. “Projects like this one provide a breather to us. But how long will you go on adding infrastructure? We should freeze the new registrations for some time and encourage public transport,’’ said a traffic cop on duty.
BBMP commissioner S Subramanya, who was busy supervising his team in giving a final touch to the project said: “The outcome of the Cauvery junction underpass will be evident only after both the BDA circle and Windsor Manor junction underpasses are ready. For the next 6 days, we will study traffic movement. We hope to start work on the BDA junction after February 22, as there is a truckers’ strike. With the underpass, we have prevented a pile-on and saved 180 seconds too.’’
“It took 20 minutes on Wednesday to travel from Mekhri Circle to BDA Circle. Once the works at this junction begins, commuters will be inconvenienced and further delayed on this stretch. The impact of all three underpasses can be assessed only after they are complete,’’ he added.
While the debate over the feasibility of the project continues, the BBMP officials clarified it was a better option than the conventional underpass, which would have required shifting of utility lines. “BWSSB authorities demanded Rs 30 crore to shift utilities at three junctions — Windsor Manor, BDA and Cauvery theatre. The cost of three magic boxes is Rs 7.5 crore, which is a third of the utility-shifting cost,’’ they said. The BBMP has vowed to complete the magic boxes from High Grounds police station to the Hebbal flyover before the first flight takes off from the new international airport.


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