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Flyovers don’t make a road

This is one dream that has taken years and expenditure running into hundreds of crores to materialise but still refuses to come true.

delhi Updated: Jan 14, 2011 01:41 IST
Jatin Anand
Jatin Anand
Hindustan Times

This is one dream that has taken years and expenditure running into hundreds of crores to materialise but still refuses to come true.

The UP Link Road was supposed to be a futuristic, signal-free highway promising to be a treat for those commuting to and from one of the most integral satellite towns of the Capital.

Two years after they planned to kill two birds with one stone, the Public Works Department's (PWD) plans to de-congest east Delhi, in addition to providing 'world-class' passage to a variety of vehicles headed to satellite towns such as Noida and Vaishali, have crumbled.

"My advice to whoever thinks that flyovers are the solution to all and sundry traffic problem is, don't construct just for the sake of constructing. If you spend hundreds of crores in making flyovers, then why can't you spare just a fraction of the time and money in conducting safety audits to ascertain the operational problems that commuters face on a daily basis," asked Professor PK Sarkar, a senior road safety and traffic infrastructure expert. Professor Sarkar is currently with the School of Planning and Architecture.

As per records tabulated by Delhi Traffic Police, the Kalyanpuri traffic circle, which consists of arterial routes such as the UP Link Road, National Highway 24 and Ghazipur, has borne witness to 78 commuter deaths in 2010.

"The drop in road fatalities from 82 in 2009 to 78 in 2010 is encouraging. This improvement has been possible only due to stricter law enforcement especially by our chase and challan squad," claimed Satyendra Garg, joint commissioner of police (traffic).

However, sources attributed the abysmally low drop to the area's proximity to the Commonwealth Games Village, located adjacent to Akshardham Temple.

"It was only because multiple agencies, including the traffic police, the Delhi Development Authority and the PWD, were engaged till the very last moment to prevent any major embarrassment during the fortnight-long Commonwealth Games in October. The names of locations were wrongly spelt on signboards and there was absolutely no police presence on the stretch except near the Games Village and Akshardham in the run up to the games," said a senior traffic police officer requesting anonymity.

Despite having pulled the Games off however, the UP Link road continues to suffer from massive design faults and criminal neglect of basic engineering principles, according to road experts.

"Road signage is improperly located and misleading, dysfunctional lighting at and near both flyovers: There is no road signage to guide commuters on either side of the Pandav Nagar flyover. Material used to lay subsequent layers of tar on each carriageway is not conducive for two-wheeler drivers as it is slippery, there is no lane marking on any of the three flyovers — this becomes a major problem on the Pandav Nagar flyover that has a bus stop located a few metres after descending it," Professor Sarkar said.

Perpetually ongoing construction work has made the stretch worse than ever before.

"Construction work is underway on almost the entire stretch but there is no barricading, no 'Men at Work' signs. This area should ideally be divided into and advance zone, a transition zone and work zone," Professor Sarkar added.

First Published: Jan 13, 2011 23:31 IST