Myopic planning by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and its inability to ensure optimal space utility has been blamed for the chaotic situation at Edappally and three other junctions on the NH Bypass.
In the case of Edappally Junction, the under-utilised service road on the south-western side and unscientifically-built traffic islands are obstructing smooth flow of vehicles. The matter would not have been taken up in right earnest but for maddening traffic snarls at the junction following the opening of Lulu Mall over a week ago.
Sources said the PWD has been asked to widen the junction’s bell mouth. “Land acquisition is not required at all for this since land owned by the NHAI is available on the service road. This is apart from the few metres of unused land located in between the Bypass and the service road. Free-left turns can be widened if the unused land and a portion of the service road at the junction are added to the free-left turn.”
Based on a plan chalked out on Wednesday, the PWD (Roads wing) also intends to chip off around three metres from two traffic islands on the junction’s southern side. Ultimately, this will add two more lanes at the junction (one on each side), while also ensuring steady flow of vehicles along the free-left turns. Currently, the junction has two lanes and a narrow free-left on each side.
“We will do a survey of the junction on Friday, following which the junction will be restructured. The traffic police cabin too might be relocated. Our job will lead to a temporary easing of traffic flow and the NHAI must come out with a long-term plan,” said a PWD official.
To a question on the time frame fixed for the widening of the junction, he said that it would be done on an emergency basis, as directed by District Collector P.I. Sheikh Pareeth.
City Police Commissioner K.G. James said steps were afoot to ensure a wider junction within a week’s time.
Referring to the narrow bridge in front of Lulu Mall on the junction’s northern side holding up traffic along the Edappally-Aluva stretch, sources said the bridge had to be urgently widened. This is crucial to ensure a proper free-left turn on the Aluva-Edappally side and has been included in the ambit of the survey. This too will enable unused land in front of a hotel being added to the free-left.
The PWD has expressed the willingness to widen the bridge if the NHAI cites procedural hassles.