Unusable service road on one side forces motorists to cram into other side
The inordinate delay in completing the construction of the Ponnurunni overbridge and its service roads near Vyttila is testing the patience of motorists and pedestrians.
The Roads and Bridges Development Corporation of Kerala’s (RBDCK) reluctance to adapt pre-cast girder technology and the Railways’ delay in according sanction to construct the railway portion are cited as reasons for the delay in commissioning the bridge.
But motorists and residents of the locality are in no mood to condone the RBDCK’s delay in levelling and blacktopping the service road on the bridge’s eastern side on the Ponnurunni-Vyttila stretch.
The agency’s lackadaisical approach has resulted in vehicles in either direction being forced to cram through the narrow and potholed service road on the bridge’s western side. As a result, traffic hold-ups are the norm here, especially during the peak hours. Accidents and instances of motorists who are caught in the melee nearly coming to blows too are common.
Kochi Corporation councillor representing Vyttila division Sunitha Dixon said that the RBDCK could not make excuses for the delay in constructing the eastern service road, since land was acquired many months ago. “Almost every day, residents and people’s representatives have been pressurising the RBDCK to speed up its works. The resultant chaos at Ponnurunni was among the topics discussed at a recent meeting and we are chalking out plans to begin an agitation to protest against the agency’s apathy,” she said.
She demanded steps to clear debris from the bridge’s underpass, levelling of the eastern service road and filling of potholes on the western side, so that vehicles that prefer to avoid congestion at Vyttila junction have an alternative route. “Even if work begins now, the service road can be readied within a month.”
On the bottleneck posed by the Vyttila bridge’s narrow underpass, Ms Dixon said that the situation will get worse once the Ponnurunni bridge is opened to traffic. “Even heavy vehicles might begin using the underpass. There is ample space nearer to the railway line where a wider underpass can be built, but the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has done precious little in this regard.”
She expressed concern at the plight of pedestrians, including hundreds of school students, who have to use the rickety service road of Ponnurunni bridge and Vyttila bridge’s narrow underpass. The narrow corridor from near Ponnurunni temple to Vyttila underpass too is yet to be widened.
A senior RBDCK official said that the service roads would be readied only by December, when the bridge would be ready for commissioning. The RBDCK had fixed September as the extended deadline to open the bridge for traffic. This has been further revised to December.