It is plagued by potholes, poor lighting and absence of flyovers at important intersections

It has been a month since an innocent life was lost owing to the apathy of the authorities in laying speed breakers on the Ring Road-Sivaganga Road junction — a student had just arrived from Sivaganga in the morning and was waiting near the bus stop on his way to a medical college when he was caught in a multiple collision involving an autoriockshaw, lorry and a bus.

Had there been a speed breaker there, the mishap could have been averted, feel some of the residents of nearby Pandikoil who witnessed the very gory accident. The civic body should lay a speed breaker at the junction and only then it would discourage heavy vehicle drivers from over-speeding, said Thavasi Pandi, a mini lorry driver of Pandikoil.

The junction is one of the many accident-prone zones on the 27-km-long Ring Road which was laid over a decade ago to decongest some of the important arterial roads in the city. The Ring Road, which connects Madurai-Tiruchi highway at Uthangudi in the north with the Madurai-Kanyakumari highway at Kappalur in the south, has turned into a deathtrap.

G. Thanigaivel Murugan, Programme Manager, ‘108’ Ambulance Service, says the Ring Road witnessed so many ghastly accidents and most of the victims were two-wheeler riders, especially students. In a majority of cases, the victims died owing to head injury, he added.  As per police records, since 2011 a total of 285 accidents have been reported till December 27, 2013 on Ring Road alone. Eighty people have died and over 300 were injured in that period. The year 2013 was the worst — 23 died and many injured in 113 accidents. The records reveal that at least four to five accidents occur every week.

Too many problems

The two-lane road is also plagued by potholes, sharp curves and poor lighting. Lack of periodical maintenance also contributes to the accidents, say road users who are irked by the amount of toll being collected on the stretch. “The toll booths charge Rs. 60 a trip for the vehicles yet they do not maintain the road properly,” rued Velmurugan, a government staff.

According to Corporation sources, the toll booths generate around Rs. 1 crore a month.

Road users say absence of lighting — even at the junctions, haphazard parking of vehicles, faulty traffic signals and rash driving as the cause for accidents.

Special care needs to be taken at the Sivaganga Road, Ramanathapuram Road, Mandela Nagar (near airport), Aruppukottai Road junctions as lack of road signs add to the woes of road users. Parking of tourist vehicles along the road adjacent to the airport wall is also seen by many as hindrance to speeding vehicles. “It is scary for two-wheeler riders like me to use the road. Speeding mofussil buses edge us off the road most of the time,” said R. Maheswaran, a shopkeeper from Viraganur.

The road has to be widened as it is difficult to negotiate the sharp curves. There is something wrong with the way the road has been laid, feel motorists. 

No flyovers

Another grouse is the absence of flyovers at the major intersections. If there are flyovers, mofussil buses and lorries can bypass the junctions, they point out.  

A. Mathuram, Chief Engineer, Madurai Corporation, told The Hindu that it has been planned to make the Ring Road a six-lane highway and the project is in the preliminary stage. Funds have been allocated for widening the road and construction of a wall on either side of the road. The State government has sanctioned an underpass at the Ring Road-Sivaganga Road junction.

Even as the public clamour for the need to check accidents on the stretch, police say they have been doing everything possible to crack down on over-speeding and drunken driving. According to the district police, on an average 2,400 cases are registered a year in the district. Between January 2013 and November 2013 alone, 2.18 lakh motor petty cases were booked and around Rs. 2.9 crore was collected as fine.

Superintendent of Police V. Balakrishnan said traffic signals will come up at the Ring Road-Ramanathapuram Road and Ring Road-Sivaganga Road junctions. Additional police would be posted to regulate traffic at accident-prone spots, he said. 

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