Service roads parallel to the highway and 4.5-metre-wide medians are a must for national highways, to segregate slow-moving traffic from fast moving one and to ensure the safety of motorists, panellists at a discussion on ‘60-metre highways—need of the future' said.

Speakers at the event organised here on Saturday by the Indian Professionals' Congress said that apart from catering to the needs of short-distance commuters, encroachment-free service roads (7-metre wide stretches on each side of the highway) can be used by people visiting the shops on either side of the highway. They expressed relief at many political and religious leaders realising that the highway has to be at least 45 metres wide, as opposed to the 30 m width for which they were campaigning for till recently.

“A wide-enough Central median would ensure that vehicles awaiting their turn to cross over to the other side of the road at U-turns are parked on the median-cutting and not along the carriageway, where they risk being hit by vehicles coming from behind. Plants planted along wide medians would cut off the glare from headlights of vehicles coming from the opposite direction,” said urban planner, architect and founder office-bearer of the Better Kochi Response Group S. Gopakumar, while presenting the topic.

Specifying the break-up of the 60-metre width fixed by the Centre to develop highways, he said that the median has to be 4.5 m, carriageway on either side 21 m, paved shoulders 3 m (where vehicles that pull up can be parked), earthen shoulders 2 m, footpaths 4 m, side slopes 2 m, drains 4 m, service roads 14 m and side parking or green zone to plant trees 5.5 m. The trees would absorb some of the air and sound pollution caused by vehicles.

The event's moderator and senior journalist K.M. Roy said that wider roads would be inevitable once hundreds of container lorries from the Vallarpadam transhipment terminal took to the State's roads.

Alex Thomas, managing director of a private infrastructural firm, said the government must come up with a plan to rehabilitate those who surrender land for road projects. Organising chairman Gopinath Panangad and others spoke.

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