Traffic signal lights provide little respite from snarls at junction and beyond

Introduction of signals lights at the Vellayambalam junction for streamlining traffic has had little impact with the roundabout handling in excess of the 8,000 passenger car units (pcu) an hour it has been designed for.

The traffic signals, introduced at one of the city's busiest junctions where the roads from Kowdiar, Sasthamangalam, Vazhuthacaud, and Museum junction meet, have become the bane of motorists and road users. Traffic snarls often extend to Manmohan Bungalow on the Kowdiar road and beyond Althara on the Vazhuthacaud road. Two policemen posted at the roundabout are reduced to mere onlookers mostly.

The signals are installed in such a way that they are not easily visible to the driver, causing much confusion. Vehicles are allowed a free left turn at the junction, but that seldom happens smoothly since vehicles going straight or to the right will be awaiting the green signal at the roundabout, blocking their path.

Traffic volume

The traffic volume at the Vellayambalam junction, which was 10,509 pcu an hour in 2002, has crossed 20,000 pcu an hour. At the Kowdiar junction, it has gone up from 3,669 pcu an hour in 2002 to 7,931. At Museum, it has gone up from 5,674 pcu an hour nine years ago to 7,625.

Traffic planners say a junction can handle 1,000 pcu an hour smoothly but once the traffic volume exceeds that, it has to be converted into a roundabout. A roundabout can handle 8,000 pcu an hour with ease. A flyover has to be constructed once the traffic volume crosses 10,000 pcu an hour at a junction. Traffic signals are the solution once the roundabout cannot handle the volume of traffic. Flyovers and underpasses are constructed when even the traffic signals are of no help. This principle was followed at Palayam by constructing an underpass and at Bakery Junction by building a flyover when the City Road Improvement Project (CRIP) was taken up.

Efforts to shift the statue of social reformer Ayyankali to a corner and reduce the roundabout by the Kerala Road Fund Board have not worked out owing to opposition from various quarters.

The proposal was to redesign the roundabout by slicing the front portion and ensure the free flow of traffic.

The statue was to be retained at the present spot and was to be a part of the converging median towards Vazhuthacaud. As this did not work out, the signals were installed at the junction.

A KRFB official told The Hindu that the board had taken note of the problem, and it would be solved once the latest signal system by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) and Keltron was streamlined. The traffic volume was being screened to take corrective steps and prevent chaos at the junction.