Five years ago, the Outer Ring Road’s south Delhi stretch was one of the most congested roads in the city. And the traffic didn’t move, it crawled.
Five years and a series of flyovers later, the traffic on the stretch remains where it earlier was – in a snarl.
The road is the gateway to the city as traffic bound to and from the Indira Gandhi International Airport uses this stretch. People thought that the stretch would become signal-free as the Delhi government promised several flyovers to decongest the area.
One by one, flyovers appeared at IIT Gate, Munirka and Rao Tula Ram (RTR) intersection. The hope of a signal-free, dream drive, however, could not be met. The RTR flyover turned out to be the weakest link in this string of flyovers.
The 900-metre flyover, opened to public in October 2009, was a single carriageway one unlike the two others in the series. Instead of catering to traffic coming from both directions, it was meant to serve only vehicles coming from Gurgaon and the airport. The traffic snarls on the stretch during the rush hours are such that its effect spills over to connecting roads leading from Moti Bagh, RK Puram and Vasant Vihar that join the Outer Ring Road.
Of trials and tribulations
When road engineering utterly betrayed the hopes of motorists, the traffic police experimented with new traffic flow designs.
To begin with, it simply reversed the traffic flow on the flyover by erecting blockades and diverting the traffic. So, instead of catering to traffic coming from the airport, the traffic movement was directed towards the airport.
The result was not a smooth flow but clashing of merging traffic at the end of the flyover.
Another experiment included allowing traffic from both directions on the single carriageway flyover. Despite these interventions, the congestion still remains.
At present, the traffic police allow vehicles coming from the airport side on the flyover in the morning hours and reverse the direction in the evening to allow traffic going towards the airport. The decision has been taken after observing that the volume of traffic is more from Gurgaon in the morning and towards Gurgaon and the airport in the evening.
During a visit to the stretch, Hindustan Times found out that many motorists who are not aware of this traffic plan get confused while approaching the flyover and as a result, slow down to choose between driving on the flyover or taking the slip road below.
“The traffic movement is being directed like a tidal flow and to ensure it is a success, proper signages are required on the stretch to inform motorists. There should be at least two to three signages at distances of between 300500 metres before the traffic junction,” said Professor PK Sarkar, head of transport planning department, School of Planning and Architecture.
Way out of the mess
Professor Sarkar said that while a major intervention to solve the traffic problem might take some time, there could be a temporary solution.
“There are roads that run parallel to the Outer Ring Road inside the RK Puram area that begin from Africa Avenue and hit the RTR intersection. These can be used to take away some traffic volume off the busy stretch. While it is not advisable to divert cars into the residential area, heavy vehicles and buses can take a detour on these routes,” he said.
“This temporary move can ease traffic congestion on the Outer Ring Road that will cater to lesser traffic volume till there is a permanent solution,” he said.
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