Closure on NH48 section adds to Delhi-Gurugram commute woes
The stretch, between southwest Delhi’s Rangpuri and Rajokri, has been shut for the construction of two underpasses linking NH-48 to Dwarka and a flyover to pass above the underpasses.
Diversions and aversion measures put in place to relieve the mess around an 800-metre section of NH-48 that was shut on Tuesday only worsened the traffic situation in the area, and kept people travelling between Delhi and Gurugram stuck on the road for hours.
The stretch, between southwest Delhi’s Rangpuri and Rajokri, has been shut by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to allow the construction of two underpasses linking NH-48 to the Dwarka Expressway and a flyover. The project is likely to take at least 90 days. In the interim, slip roads have been built along the closed section of the highway to allow vehicles to pass through.
However, the multiple diversions – first for vehicles to get on to the slip roads, and then to get back on NH-48 after the shut section – created multiple choke points and led to winding traffic jams along the highway.
Travel times for commuters were also worsened by the closure of the Chirag Delhi flyover, 15km away, with people heading from parts of south and east Delhi towards Gurugram facing a harrowing situation.
The police on Tuesday initially shut only one carriageway – from Delhi to Gurugram. However, by late Tuesday evening, both carriageways of the highway were shut.
Delhi’s special commissioner of police (traffic) SS Yadav, said the carriageway was initially closed as a “trial” to understand the difficulties that commuters might face. It was then decided that the stretch will be shut entirely.
“The traffic situation is smooth in the area,” he said, adding, “We believe that by the end of the week, people will get used to the additional traffic on the stretch.”
Meanwhile, Virender Singh Sangwan, Gurugram deputy commissioner of police (traffic), said, “We have deployed our teams on the stretch in Gurugram. No congestion has been reported so far in the city due to the diversion. The diversion will impact traffic movement, but we are well-prepared to ensure commuters are not inconvenienced.”
The Gurugram police have planned alternative routes, in the event of congestion in the city, Sangwan said.
“We will issue an advisory and will ask commuters to either take the Kapashera route or MG Road to ensure smooth traffic in the city,” he said.
Nirman Jambulkar, project director, NHAI (Dwarka Expressway) said the closure was put in place to allow work on a “major interchange” coming up at Shiv Murti to allow seamless traffic movement towards south, west and central Delhi, Gurugram and the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport.
“The flyover will be 1.7-km long and is already under construction. We need three months to build it along the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway, for which traffic will be diverted on to the slip roads,” he said, adding that the new 18-metre-wide stretches will ease the snarls.
Later in the day, Delhi Police issued an advisory, suggesting alternative routes for commuters. Those going towards Dwarka, Kapashera and Najafgarh may travel via Palam Road from the Gurugram flyover. Commuters travelling from Gurugram, Kapashera and Dwarka towards Dhaula Kuan and Vasant Vihar may take Dwarka Flyover Road No 201, the advisory said.
Some commuters said their commute time went up considerably, and that they were stuck for around 30 minutes between Mahipalpur flyover and the Rajokri crossing.
Vikramjeet Singh, a commuter, said it took him two hours to reach Gurugram from Dhaula Kuan.
“I was unable to drive smoothly due to the congestion on the stretch. There were many minor accidents as cars rammed into each other due to the frequent stoppages and unpredictable speed,” Singh said.
Experts said agencies should plan traffic interventions considering all of the National Capital Region (NCR) as contiguous and not as individual cities.
S Velmurugan, chief scientist and head of traffic engineering and safety division, Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), said, “The (NH-48) corridor caters to almost 500,000 trips between Delhi and Gurugram every day. The only alternative in this situation is the Faridabad-Gurugram route. The road is in a good condition, but people will have to travel an additional 20km, and pay toll at two points.”