Installation of more automatic traffic signals has not streamlined the traffic flow in Madurai due to absence of a scientific traffic management plan.
Major cities are ushering in better ways of road signals like coordinated control to facilitate a string of green signals and ‘dynamic control’ wherein countdown timers are programmed to take into account traffic conditions during peak hours, Sundays and holidays etc. Non-utilisation of this facility can be felt during peak hours in signals at Goripalayam, Kalavasal, Aavin junction and Apollo Hospital-Melamadai junction.
N. Soundararajan, retired Assistant Commissioner of Police (Traffic), who was part of a team led by the then Deputy Commissioner of Police R. Sekar and Police Commissioner S.R. Jangid during their stints in Madurai, says those officers transformed traffic scenario in Madurai through creation of many one-ways, watch towers with public address system to instruct vehicles and pedestrians, etc.
“Mr. Sekar used to ask us to monitor the traffic improvement or disruption for 24 hours at a stretch even after a slight modification and acted on the feedback from us and the public. He will travel like a passenger in a city bus and elicit opinion from the driver and conductor.” People have misconceptions that entering one-way from the wrong side after 10 p.m. and pushing a cycle or two-wheeler instead of riding it are allowed. They do not realise that going against the flow is always risky and pushing the vehicle will occupy four feet instead of two feet when riding.
Mr. Sekar even tried out coordinated control of Outpost, Tamukkam and Goripalayam signals for continuous green signals, a system being followed on Anna Salai in Chennai during VVIP movement, he says.
While the city police did a commendable job near Aavin junction by introducing gantry-mounted signal lights for better visibility, the same good sense has not been applied at Palanganatham junction where road users from TVS Nagar and the road right opposite have to do some daredevilry to veer off or join Tirupparankundram Road. Same is the problem for vehicles from or to Vilakkuthoon at East Gate signal.
In Arasaradi, wrong positioning of signal poles resulted in traffic from New Jail Road blocking vehicles from AA Road and those from S. S. Colony side jumping signal. K. Rajendra Babu, Secretary, Citizens’ Association for Traffic Improvement in Madurai (CATIM), says the open channel opposite S.S. Colony north entrance must be covered till the Ram Victoria theatre and the road widened to remove the bottleneck.
Timers are not programmed for the heavy traffic flow at Kalavasal on either side of Bypass Road forcing vehicles to drive through amber signal, he says.
At West Masi Street-Netaji Road junction, Guru Theatre junction and DRO Colony, the signals rarely come to life. They have almost ceased to exist, more due to vagaries of traffic planning, near St Mary’s Church and Amsavalli Hotel on East Veli Street, no more a one-way. The signal near Aravind Eye Hospital has gone to seed after the change in traffic pattern.
There are new signals standing as mute witnesses to the chaos, such as the ones near Fatima College, near Fenner, Mill Gate, near Head Post Office, Simmakkal (near Chockanathar temple), Vakkil New Street and Athikulam junction. There is no sign of plan to erect any at the four major intersections on the ring road or on the Samayanallur-Thoppur four-lane highway that bisects Melakkal Road, Theni Road and Thanakkankulam Road.