Ashram flyover opens to smooth traffic on day 1; real test likely from next week
A Delhi traffic police officer at the site said decongestion measures and increased deployment may be required in the coming days near Nehru Nagar and Lajpat Nagar to keep vehicular movement fluid.
Commuters travelling between south Delhi and Noida were in for an unusually smooth trip on Tuesday, a day after the Ashram flyover extension was opened for the public, with several people saying their journeys were 25-30 minutes shorter, even as experts cautioned that the new stretch will face a much stiffer test next week onwards, when traffic volumes return to normal after the festive period.
Further, traffic moving from Sarai Kale Khan towards south Delhi remained choked on Tuesday, with the ramp that will connect the busy stretch with the new extension still 30-45 days away from being completed.
During a spot check between 8.30am and 10.30am on Tuesday, HT found that the 12km commute from DND to AIIMS took less than 19 minutes. It also took just around a minute and 30 seconds to head from DND and cross the Ashram flyover.
Ravi Kumar Thakur, a technician heading from Noida towards South Extension said he was elated to see the flyover open.
“I have spent countless hours stuck on this road over the last five years. This is the first time I crossed it in two minutes,” said Thakur.
However, there was still some degree of confusion among commuters due to missing signage in some spots.
Raghvendra Chauhan, a motorcyclist heading from Delhi towards Pari Chowk in Greater Noida, said that there was some uncertainty due to the absence of any large signs indicating the routes and ramps that need to be taken. There were only small hoardings at a few locations that were not visible from a distance.
“I mistakenly took the Sarai Kale Khan ramp and then had to return. They should assign traffic marshals till all the signs are put up,” he added. HT on Tuesday found several two-wheelers heading back from the blocked stretch, with the confusion stemming from the lack of signs.
Meanwhile on Tuesday morning, a truck rammed the overhead bar – designed to prevent heavy vehicles from using the stretch – installed at the foot of the carriageway heading towards Lajpat Nagar, with repairs throwing traffic out of gear from 9.50am to 10.11am.
A worker from the public works department (PWD) said that a truck driver, ostensibly drunk, rammed his vehicle into the barricade around 5am.
“We have put up reflector tapes on the bars to highlight it. All vehicles that are over 2.5-metre tall are not allowed on the corridor, and should continue to use the surface-level route,” the official said.
Traffic on the affected carriageway was shut around 9.50am. However, furious protests from affected commuters led to workers at the spot partially opening one lane to allow cars through, even as repairs continued.
Vinod Kumar, a traffic warden deputed at the intersection, said that the real test of the flyover will begin from next week.
“The traffic volume on Tuesday felt lighter due to the ongoing festival season and fewer office goers. The real test of the corridor will start from next week and once heavy vehicles are allowed on top of it,” he said.
A Delhi traffic police officer at the site said decongestion measures and increased deployment may be required in the coming days near the Nehru Nagar and Lajpat Nagar underpasses to keep vehicular movement fluid.
Prof Sewa Ram, professor of transport planning in the School of Planning and Architecture, said that since the PWD needs to complete the remaining works on the flyover, there must be some speed regulations to minimise the chances of accidents. “The cautionary signages must be installed on priority. It is now becoming a habit of the construction agencies to throw open delayed projects and incorporate safety features later. Safety audits and trials should be carried out before fullscale opening otherwise, they may be held responsible for any accidents,” he added.