Signals making a return in Gurugram despite infra projects
With Gurugram developing in a haphazard manner following a surge in urbanisation in the early 2000s, problems such as traffic snarls have become a regular feature.
To account for the surge in population and consequent number of automobiles in the absence of a reliable mode of public transport, until recently, development agencies in the city resorted to reengineered various key road stretches. In the last five years, 12 underpasses and six flyovers were built, traffic signals and roundabouts removed, and exits at intersections closed to make way for U-turns, all in a bid to address congestion.
However, the road design changes introduced to alter traffic flow have not yielded the desired results. Instead, the changes further compounded snarls by shifting the congestion from one spot to another, forcing officials to revert to the original road design.
The latest example is that of Bakhtawar Chowk redesign, which was done to make it more pedestrian friendly. Started on a trial basis to check traffic violations and reduce collisions by creating a zebra crossing, pedestrian islands and making the intersection more compact, the trial design was scrapped after five days on August 14 as it compounded snarls towards Rajiv Chowk.
According to HVZ officials, the Bakhtawar Chowk redesign failed because certain recommended changes were omitted from the plan executed on ground, and that commuters were not given enough time to get accustomed to it.
HVZ proposed using jersey barriers to extend the median length to reduce this island space by 30%. This, however, led to heavy congestion on the carriageway as vehicles couldn’t make a U-turn freely, leaving vehicles backed up till a kilometre as around 4,500 of the 13,000 vehicles that cross the junction during peak traffic hours descend from Rajiv Chowk.
“We had recommended that the traffic police introduce a traffic signal near Medanta Hospital and close the exit carrying traffic from Mayfield Gardens. This would have reduced the number of vehicles heading towards Bakhtawar Chowk and periodically cleared traffic as well. We are hoping this recommendation will be get considered if the trial resumes,” HVZ programme coordinator Sarika Panda Bhatt said.
DCP (traffic) Himanshu Garg said, “We will reintroduce the traffic trial after monsoon.”
In December 2017, the traffic police had removed the traffic signals and blocked the gap in the median using jersey barriers. Instead, two U-turns were introduced at a distance of 200 metres on either side of Sohna Road.
This meant commuters had no direct access to or from Rajiv Chowk, Hero Honda Chowk, Vatika Chowk or Bakhtawar Chowk—all of which are key intersections in the city.
On July 16, however, these changes were scrapped and traffic signals were reintroduced.
“We realised that removing traffic signals did not streamline vehicle movement. Instead, the two cuts on Sohna Road had become a bottleneck,” Garg said.
Other intersections that are likely to become signaled again are Rajiv Chowk, Hero Honda Chowk, and MDI Chowk. On July 31, during a road safety session in Udyog Vihar, Garg had announced that traffic signals will be re-introduced at the junctions to make them safer for pedestrians and reduce accident rate here. The announcement came two years after the signals were removed when the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) opened underpasses here.
While the straight route to the underpasses will remain signal-free, the other converging points are where traffic lights will be reinstalled, officials said, adding that MDI Chowk is likely to become signalled by the end of this month. There is little clarity on the date by when traffic flow will change at the other two intersections.