Commissioning the Alappuzha and Kollam bypasses holds the key to streamlining the traffic along the Chertala Thiruvananthapuram stretch of NH 47. “They will be ready in another 18 to 24 months”, said PWD Secretary T. O. Sooraj.

“Following a meeting held in New Delhi on Thursday, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has agreed to provide 50 per cent of the funds for completing the two-lane roads along the bypasses.

“The State will pool in the rest of the amount. The two stretches will be widened as four lanes later. This is because 40 per cent of the vehicles in the State use National Highways that account for just 1.50 per cent of the total road length in the State and they need wider roads.”

Currently, long-distance motorists and others are caught in traffic snarls in the two congested towns, wasting time and fuel. Though the NHAI generally insists on the State to hand over its full share in advance, the government made it clear that the first installment would be given as advance and the rest in phases, depending on the progress of the project. Land acquisition for the two-lane bypasses is almost over.

“Very soon, the State will ink an MoU with the agency on the role that each entity would play in executing the works. It is being drafted and will be signed by September. Soon after, the works will be tendered,” Mr. Sooraj said.

He cited the urgent need to widen Chertala-Thiruvananthapuram stretch of NH 47 into four-lane or more since over 40,000 passenger car units use it daily.

“As per the norms, four-laning is a must once the figure crosses the 20,000 mark,” he pointed out. Apart from widening the highly-accident-prone highway, steps are on the anvil to remove encroachers and to check indiscriminate parking so that it becomes safe for pedestrians and motorists, sources said.

Last year, breaking the practice followed so far, the State government had decided to bear half the cost of constructing the Alappuzha and Kollam bypasses.

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