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Reverse swing yorks RTR

Less than six months ago, commuters did not drive down the Outer Ring Road’s south Delhi stretch. They crawled, hoping the road would soon become signal free, reports Sidhartha Roy.

delhi Updated: Mar 29, 2010 23:56 IST
Sidhartha Roy

Less than six months ago, commuters did not drive down the Outer Ring Road’s south Delhi stretch. They crawled, hoping the road would soon become signal free.

The promise was delivered.

In October last year, a string of flyovers came up at IIT Gate, Munirka and Rao Tula Ram (RTR) intersection.

There was a hitch though. The last flyover in the chain, the one at RTR intersection was just a single carriageway flyover meant for traffic coming from Gurgaon and the airport.

So, while traffic was zooming down the first two flyovers, the vehicles were getting stuck at RTR flyover — the single carriageway flyover becoming the weakest link in the ‘signal free’ stretch.

The result? A return to the pre-signal free days of traffic congestions.

With huge traffic snarls during peak morning and evening hours, the connecting roads from Moti Bagh, R.K. Puram and Vasant Vihar that join Outer Ring Road are the worst victims.

Recent experiment

To solve the logjam, the traffic police carried out an experiment a week ago.

It reversed the flow of traffic on the single carriageway flyover by erecting blockades and diverting vehicles.

Instead of the traffic coming from Gurgaon and Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) and headed towards Munirka and Nehru Place, the flyover was opened to traffic headed to the opposite direction.

The traffic police claims the experiment has solved the problem to a large extent, but the congestion during peak hours hasn’t come to rest.

With traffic merging from different sides and squeezing in at the narrow road, the snarl extends from Subroto Park to Munirka.

At the RTR Marg itself, the traffic reaches up to almost Moti Bagh intersection near inner Ring Road.

The load on the stretch has also increased after right turns were closed for traffic coming from R.K. Puram, Vasant Vihar, Moti Bagh and Benito Juarez Marg.

The residents of Vasant Vihar who are headed towards Nehru Place now have to drive all the way to RTR intersection due to the closure of turns from Paschimi Marg, Poorvi Marg and Vasant Marg to Outer Ring Road.

“Agencies such as the Public Works Department and the traffic police should have calculated the expected volume of traffic on this stretch before constructing the flyover,” said S.P. Singh, senior fellow of Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training.

“The original plan was to build a double carriageway flyover, which would have served some purpose. The plan was dilated due to lack of space to build a complete flyover,” Singh said. “It was only after the chaos the traffic police came up with the ‘reverse flow plan’.”

Ajay Chaddha, Special Commissioner (Traffic) said there were other plans, too, that were later dropped, including building underpasses and tunnels for the airport-bound traffic.

Singh also said the commuters haven’t fully understood the concept and better signages need to be installed to guide them.

“The stretch is full of small sign boards that are not made of reflective material. How would these help motorists at night?” Singh said.

The traffic police is making up for the lack of proper signages by deploying its personnel at all the arms of the RTR flyover and the connecting roads.

“If you have to use so much manpower to manage modern transport infrastructure, it shows the system has failed,” he said. Both Singh and Chadha said that with building a double carriageway flyover now out of question, commuters would have to change their route to avoid the chaos.