Revive an old unused road under Baikampady bridge to beat traffic bottleneck

Fed up with official apathy over building another road over bridge to ease traffic on the existing Baikampady bridge, residents of Surathkal and nearby areas blocked rail lines to make an alternative road under the bridge on Tuesday. The new road cuts short the distance by 1 km for those going towards Baikampady Industrial Estate and Jokatte.

Under the banner of the Nagarika Samiti, Surathkal, around 100 persons sat on the railway track that sees goods movement to and from New Mangalore Port Trust.

Using funds raised from local citizens, the organisation made a road that goes along the bridge motorable, bypassing the two-lane bridge.

Subash Chandra Shetty, an engineer from Surathkal who was supervising the efforts, said the road had existed since 1975, and the tracks to the port was laid only in 1984.

“Buses used to take this road, and it was a major link for the area. However, in 2002, the Railways blocked the road by putting up gates. Since then the road has become unmotorable,” he said.

The residents did not find this much of a hindrance till the traffic on National Highway 66 exploded after it was upgraded to four lanes, he said.

However, with the road narrowing down to two lanes at the bridge, the frequent traffic pile-ups became a problem for schoolchildren and ambulances.

“We contacted the South Western Railways to ask them why the road was blocked. They told us their records did not list the construction of gates across the road,” said Mr. Shetty.

Using this as their cue, the samiti mobilised Rs. 50,000 to spread gravel over the tracks and level the unused road. Residents blocked the tracks on Tuesday morning until the works were completed.

“Once it is motorable, it would cut short the distance by 1 km, while entirely bypassing the crowded bridge,” he said. Bolstered by this, the samiti also organised a protest in front of New Mangalore Port Trust to demand a footbridge over the railway tracks for the people of the Baikampady.

They demanded that the port regulate and restrict the movements of the trucks leaving their premises as these large vehicles, when they enter or exit the port onto the highway, cause traffic jams.

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