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Lack of road signs leaves Gurugram directionless

A 2013 report noted that Gurugram had more advertisements boards than road signage.

gurgaon Updated: Jun 18, 2018 09:46 IST
Kartik Kumar
Kartik Kumar
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
Gurugram,Road signs,Signage
The situation in Gurugram is often compared with that of New Delhi where proper signage serves to discipline motorists.(HT File Photo)

The city has long been notorious because of its traffic jams. Despite many past and on-going attempts by national and local infrastructure development agencies, chaos reigns on its streets because of either absent or poorly placed road signage. Most of city’s accidents, traffic jams and long detours can be attributed to the confusion created by this small, yet key piece of infrastructure.

Following directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, city’s road safety experts had compiled a study titled ‘Gurgaon Outdoor Advertisement and Signage Study’ in November 2013. The report, which noted that the city had more advertisements boards than road signage, concluded that navigating was next to impossible for an outsider owing to lack of signage. Further, the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) and the Haryana urban development authority (Huda)—which played a significant role in the city’s infrastructure development and maintenance at the time—were held accountable for this crisis.

Based on recommendations made in the report, the court then directed the two bodies to improve the traffic signage. But five years later, the situation remains the same. At several stretches in the city, commuters continue to find (or lose) their way on a daily basis.

HT visited five such spots in Gurugram, which have cost motorists time, fuel, and sometimes their lives.

Shankar Chowk flyover

Lack of information about changes to routes because of construction work here in the past year leaves commuters confused at this key junction.

Prior to the road-widening project on the Cyber City-Golf Course Road stretch, commuters would take the one U-turn under the flyover to head towards Cyber City. Now, however, there are two U-turns.

The first U-turn leads to MG Road and the second to Cyber City. But the authorities have not placed any signage for the commuters’ benefit.

Shankar Chowk flyover

As a result, commuters who want to go to Cyber City but are unaware of the changes, tend to take the first turn and end up travelling all the way till the Heritage City Society on MG Road to travel back to the same spot, after a seven km detour.

Manish Sinha, a resident of Essel Towers, who was unaware of the changes, said this miss cost him an hour. “I was heading towards Cyber City and ended up reaching for one hour later than expected because I took the wrong U-turn below the Shankar Chowk flyover. It took me all the way back to Mall Mile.”

Cost of missing the right exit: 7 kilometres.

Sikanderpur underpass

A prime example of the dangers of poorly placed signage is the Sikanderpur underpass, which has become one of city’s most accident-prone spots and mishaps there have claimed lives.

The major issue at the underpass is that signage, although present, are small.

Commuters heading towards the MG Road are required to take a left prior to the underpass, but unaware drivers often descend into the underpass and realise their mistake only a little too late. As a result, they have to drive for 4km along DLF Phase-1 and Sunset Boulevard Marg to get back on the correct route.

Sikanderpur underpass

However, many choose to break the rules and instead of taking the detour, they either reverse the vehicle inside or near the underpass or travel on the wrong side leading to accidents and snarls.

One such incident took place on May 6 when a sedan and an SUV travelling in the wrong direction collided head-on leaving two people dead.

Signage on this stretch is currently the responsibility of Huda, but this area is in the process of being transferred to the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA). With no deadline set for completion of the transfer, it remains to be seen how many casualties will pile up before any of the authorities act.

When HT spoke with Huda administrator Dr Chander Shekhar Khare, he said, “Officials have been alerted, the issue of signage will be rectified.”

Cost of missing the right exit: 4 kilometres.

Rajiv Chowk underpass

A unique problem prevails at this junction, especially for those coming from Sohna Road—there are signage here, but motorists can’t see them.

Rajiv Chowk underpass

The relevant signage for the underpass blocks from view another board which gives directions to those intending to use the expressway.

The board for the underpass, which is clearly visible and indicates that the underpass runs underneath the Expressway and leads to Mini Secretariat and Civil Lines, is placed at such an angle that commuters heading from Sohna Road cannot see the board with directions on which lane to use to head towards New Delhi and Jaipur.

As a result, several commuters start driving towards the underpass instead of bypassing it. And just like the situation at the Sikanderpur underpass, motorists stop suddenly and start reversing, creating scope for collisions.

So far, no major accident has taken place at this spot.

Anand Rungta, a resident of Sector 47, said, “I had to head towards Jaipur but ended up taking the underpass as I couldn’t see the sign board. When I realised what had happened, I had no choice but to go all the way to the the police commissioner’s office and return to the original spot for taking a turn.”

Cost of missing the right exit: 3 kilometres.

Road fork at Ericsson building

For heading towards the Cyber City from Ambience Mall, commuters turn left from the service lane and reach a fork in the road—one road leads to Cyber City and Cyber Hub, while the other road takes them towards Golf Course Road and residential areas of DLF Phase 1 and DLF 5.

Road fork at Ericsson building

However, in the absence of signage, commuters who aren’t aware of where the two roads lead, slow down, reverse their vehicles or just try to squeeze them through the bollards here.

Mainly, commuters heading towards Cyber City are affected by taking the wrong road as they have to then travel all the way till an unnamed underpass located near DLF Phase-2 Metro station to head back to their destination.

Cost of missing the right exit: 3 kilometres.

Signature Tower

The Signature Tower junction, which has always been a chokepoint in Gurugram, continues to be one despite the construction of an underpass, built here just to unclog the area.

The persisting problem can be partly attributable to an absence of signage, again.

Signature Tower

The Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway service lane near Exit 7 has been divided by a median.

The road on right is a U-turn which takes commuters back towards New Delhi, and the one on left leads towards the Huda City Center.

However, in the absence of signages informing commuters about these facts, many end up taking the wrong turn.

The lack of directions mostly affects commuters heading towards the Bata Chowk or the Atul Kataria Chowk, as they end up taking the old route on the right. Only now, instead of reaching their destination, they’re back on the expressway.

The correct route now is to take the road to the left of the median, drive up to the traffic light at the newly built multi-level parking near HCC Metro station, and then take a U-turn to enter the underpass.

Once the mistake is made, however, commuters have no choice but to turn back from the Shankar Chowk flyover, and reach the junction again.

Cost of missing the right exit: 3 kilometres.

In Gurugram, the responsibility of placing signage lies with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the MCG.

“The Gurugram police has raised the issue of improper signage the NHAI and the MCG in numerous road safety meetings,” ACP (highways) Hira Singh said.

However, neither has been able get it right.

While the MCG said installing sign boards is its priority, and work has started, the NHAI rejected the idea of it having made any mistakes in placing signage in areas under its jurisdiction.

“All signage on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway have been put up as per the Indian Road Congress Standards and the Ministry of road transport and highways,” NHAI project director Ashok Sharma said.

“On Monday (June 11), the finance and contract (F&CC) committee of the MCG gave approval to the allotment of tenders worth Rs 4 crore for upgrading signage,” Gurugram mayor Madhu Azad said, confirming that three bids were received for the tender, as stated in rules, giving hope that residents might be able to find their way around their own city

First Published: Jun 18, 2018 09:46 IST