Unscientifically-designed junctions and other infrastructure are causing accidents on the Edapally-Aroor NH 47 Bypass.
The Kannadikkad junction on the southern side of Thykoodam bridge is an apt example of tardy planning, said S. Balakrishnan, president of the (Residents' (Associations) Apex Council - Ernakulam (RACE). At the junction, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has permitted vehicles from service roads on either side to directly enter the bypass. The entries from the side have not been relocated, despite numerous accidents taking place here, he said.
The latest was a hit-and-run accident a couple of weeks ago when a car fatally knocked down two women crossing the junction.
Mr. Balakrishnan said that bus bays are absent at most bus stops in the 16-km-long bypass, including in areas where there is ample space. This results in buses parking on the slow-track and occupying half the width of the bypass, creating traffic hold ups.
“Zebra crossings too are missing at areas where people regularly cross the road. Wide and better-maintained underpasses linking either side of the thickly-populated stretch would encourage local commuters, while foot overbridges at frequent intervals would help pedestrians cross the road safely,” he said.
The situation has not improved even after RACE and regional residents' associations took up the issue directly with the NHAI.
The matter was also pursued through the district administration and Residents Associations for Timely Solutions .
The RACE also expressed its concern over the NHAI not clearing shrubs from medians in between Vytilla and Edapally, which hamper visibility at U-turns and thus cause accidents.
One reason for high pedestrian fatalities on the bypass is that motorists are often unable to see pedestrians coming out of the tall shrubs on the median and crossing the road.
Absence of street lights (the NHAI says it is the Kochi Corporation's responsibility) has made matters worse on the bypass.
“The NHAI and traffic police must erect no-parking boards on service roads so that vehicles are not parked at entries to side roads. Parking must be restricted to only one side of the road in extreme cases. The Kochi Corporation must ensure that hospitals and business establishments beside the bypass have ample parking space,” Mr. Balakrishnan said.
Many of the flawed expansion joints over the Vytilla bridge have not been replaced, neither was the bridge resurfaced during last year's maintenance work.
Thus, motorists, including patients transported in ambulances, have to endure a bumpy ride.
Drains have not been built at many places on the bypass, with the result that service roads get inundated during the rains.
The NHAI's Kochi Project Director C. T. Abraham said that the agency allots funds only once each year for clearing shrubs from the median. The work to beautify the medians on the Vytilla-Aroor stretch was delayed following the rain, he said.