Though the state government praised the Yamuna Expressway as the country's best infrastructure project built on public-private participation model, it also pointed out several shortcomings which can undermine the commuters' safety.
Ram Gopal Yadav, senior Samajwadi Party leader and UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav's uncle, said, "The number of service lanes isn't enough. This will mean forced and illegal access by vehicles not allowed on the expressway and can cause accidents as the road is an access-controlled facility."
With vehicles consistently doing more than 100 kmph, the safety of motorists and of those working or living close to the highway becomes important.
Joint managing director of Jaypeee Infratech Sameer Gaud, admitted, "We have to build 56 service lanes. So far only 26 have been built. Rest of the work will be completed within six months." Farmers of several villages located along the road have for long been demanding construction of adequate service lanes.
Yadav also said that the stretch between Mathura and Agra often saw Neel Gai movement. And since the fencing on the road was not high enough, "it could cause more accidents," he said.Road experts said the challenge now lay in keeping the road free of unauthorised vehicles and pedestrians.
While in other countries the expressways are access-controlled, former director of the Central Road Research Institute PK Sikdar said pedestrians, two-wheelers and tractors are often found illegally moving on such roads in India.
"There should be sufficient public consultation during such projects to ensure public facilities such as underpasses are constructed at strategic locations for movement of vehicles and pedestrians," Sikdar said. "Two to three levels of fencing are required to keep locals and animals away."
Yamuna expressway is the 14th access-controlled highway in the country and the longest so far. Fourteen more are under construction. The 95-km Ahmedabad-Vadodara expressway is the second longest expressway now.
In his inaugural speech, Akhilesh warned commuters against crossing the 100 kmph limit. His uncle, however, differed: "Commuters must be allowed to drive at 120 kmph. What is the point a good road if one is allowed to drive at only 100kmph?" He asked Jaypee to send a proposal to increase the limit to 120 kmph.