Hoping to rid arterial roads of traffic jams and make the city more pedestrian-friendly, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is considering a proposal for underground roads in South Mumbai.
The first such ‘car pass’ will be on Mahatma Gandhi Road, from Azad Maidan to Cross Maidan. There will be two others — at Veer Nariman Road, from Eros theatre to Marine Lines, and from Churchgate circle junction to the Public Works Department building.
The roads above the car passes will be open only to public transport and pedestrians.
The proposal, mooted by architect Jayashree Bhalla of the Search, a studio for environment and architecture, is being scrutinised by different agencies. The BMC had asked Bhalla to submit a detailed plan for the pilot projects.
“The idea is to facilitate uninterrupted pedestrian movement across the city. We will also join open spaces in South Mumbai through a green belt that will make the walk more pleasant,” said Bhalla.
Studies show that over 45 per cent of Mumbaiites cover at least a part of their journey to work on foot.
The proposal was chalked out in February when residents and architects met at the Kala Ghoda Festival. A detailed study was then undertaken to see whether such a project was required.
A senior BMC official said: “We are studying the proposal. Nothing is finalised as many agencies have to consulted.” Added an official from the Roads Department: “Underground utilities pose a big challenge while carrying out such works in Mumbai.”
The underpass at MG Road near BSNL buildings aims to connect the two maidans — Azad and Cross.
If the proposal is cleared, a green strip will be developed alongside by planting trees and shrubs. The underpasses on Veer Nariman Road, which stretches from Nairman Point to Hutatma Chowk, will create a pedestrian walkway of the 1.2-km busy stretch.
“The outgoing traffic from Churchgate into the business areas is heavy; the underpasses will help disperse it,” said Bhalla. If this pilot project succeeds, similar car passes could come up in areas like Borivli and Sewri.
“It will take us a year after we get the permissions to proceed with the project,” said Bhalla.