Efforts are on to decongest the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway, and some of the infrastructural projects being taken up to achieve this are the construction of underpasses at three crucial junctions, a flyover at a major bottleneck, and an elevated U-turn at the starting point of the motorway.
However, experts fear that inaccurate designing and near-negligible focus on traffic projections will mar the intended outcome of the structures.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will build three underpasses at Iffco Chowk, Signature Tower and Rajiv Chowk, besides a flyover at Hero Honda Chowk, for Rs 900 crore. Although the NHAI has set a deadline of 30 months for these projects, fears abound that the construction may take a few more years owing to land acquisition issues and the multiplicity of civic agencies in Gurgaon.
The NHAI’s plan to build an elevated U-turn opposite Ambience Mall has been delayed by over eight years.
Urban planners in Gurgaon, however, contend that building more underpasses and flyovers will not decongest the expressway. They say that though the government is ready to spend on infrastructure, it cares little for investing on proper planning or using modelling techniques to project traffic.
“Most of the planners in the government are trained civil engineers. It has very few urban planners or transport experts. As a result, little analysis is done while planning these projects. The stress is more on building and expanding roads, rather than creating more options to transport people,” Amit Bhatt, head of urban planning organisation Embarq India, says.
He predicts that by the time these projects are completed, the rise in number of vehicles will neutralise any benefits arising from them.
Highway administrator Ashok Sharma, however, believes that the projects will definitely help the traffic situation in the area. “We have received bids for all the three projects, and they will be opened on April 26. These underpasses and the flyover at Hero Honda Chowk will certainly reduce congestion on the expressway,” he says.
While School of Architecture and Planning associate professor Dr Sewa Ram concedes that road projects may reduce congestion to an extent, he believes that a more comprehensive solution lies in expanding the scope of public transport. “There is a strong need to study the impact of induced traffic because more infrastructure only pulls in more traffic,” he says.
So pronounced are the shortcomings of the expressway that P Raghavendra Rao, the chief secretary of town and country planning, recently asked civic agencies to avoid making the same mistakes while developing the Northern Peripheral Road.
The Iffco Chowk Flyover – coming up at a projected cost Rs 285.12 crore – will have a circular bridge, ramp and an underpass. The Signature Tower project, costing Rs 215.01 crore, will have a roundabout for traffic heading towards Maharana Pratap Chowk. The Rs 234.32-crore Rajiv Chowk underpass will have a separate lane for pedestrians.
With the Gurgaon expressway not living up to its promise, there is a strong view that the government should focus on improving public transportation between Gurgaon and Delhi, and expedite work on the Dwarka-Gurgaon metro link.