The Andheri-Saki Naka stretch, one of the widest and most crucial links in the city, may be riddled with problems, but it is not beyond repair. That is what the two experts Hindustan Times consulted to resolve the problems on this road concluded.
“It may be the widest road in the city, but it is also the most badly planned,” said Rishi Aggarwal, an activist, who works on transportation issues and a research fellow at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF). Aggarwal, along with architect Nitin Killawala, studied and analysed the stretch on a visit with an HT team on Wednesday.
According to both, the verdict was unanimous: All the stretch needs is a revamp to overhaul the flow of traffic on its bustling streets.
One of the biggest changes, one which will have the most significant impact, will be to improve the road surface. “It is not rocket science — such bad roads end up reducing the speed of traffic . More importantly, that way, the road width’s can be used completely by motorists,” said Killawala. This means the potholes will have to be filled, the drain covers will have to be leveled with the road, the paver-blocks coming off will have to be replaced. None of these solutions are difficult for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which maintains it.
The panel of experts also said the road needs to be ‘re-engineered’. This means the width of some of the roads needs to be reduced, in line with the width of the linked roads. “Roads with excessive width generally lead to very poor space utilisation. On this road, the width has given rise to double parking, a narrow pavement and encroachments. People end up walking on the road, disturbing the traffic flow,” said Aggarwal.
According to Killawala, the road width has to be consistent or else it ends up creating bottlenecks on narrow points. “In fact, go to any European country and you will find roads that are half the size of this stretch. However, the designing of their roads is such that the traffic flows seamless,” said Killawala. Both the experts believe Guru Hargovindji Road, from MIDC-Chakala junction to the Bisleri junction, is the perfect example of this re-engineering.
Experts also said a greater emphasis has to be placed on initiatives such as dedicated bus lanes, creating more parking spaces and a smoother transition for commuters using different modes of transport, especially the Metro.
In addition, a major part of the effort, experts said, was to clear the bottlenecks on the major peripheral roads this stretch connects to. From Saki Naka, the stretch leads to three major roads — Saki Vihar road, Ghatkopar link road and Kurla Jari Mari road. However, all three have terrible bottlenecks that result in the poor dispersal of traffic from the Andheri-Kurla road especially in the evenings. “We need to focus on building connectors that can be underground tunnels, linking important roads. Such connectors can take the load off this one road alone,” said Aggarwal.