More flyovers have been planned in the city as a solution to the increasing traffic problems. A look at the ground reality

Big cities are where traffic never hits the pause button. Maintaining the flow of vehicles as urban settlements break into the big league has thus become a huge challenge.

The world over, flyovers have become an essential feature of urban road development, used extensively on highways for “grade separation” — letting traffic go on without a break with the help of structures on different heights at junctions.

Though dubbed an eyesore, flyovers have been built in large numbers over the past four decades in India, with Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai leading the way.

In Kerala, where road development has been woefully slow, a belated start was made with the commissioning of a flyover at Bakery Junction in the State capital following the building of an underpass at Palayam.

Work on another flyover at Mele Pazhavangady, the third major component of the 42-km City Road Improvement Project, is in full swing.

Even as the city is eagerly awaiting a monorail from Pallipuram to Thampanoor in the first leg, flyovers have been proposed at several places along National Highway 66 to ease traffic.

Flyovers have an advantage as they help create additional road space overhead, minimising costly and time-consuming acquisition of land. A flyover can be built when the number of passenger car units exceeds 5,000 an hour and when traffic signals, restrictions on vehicles, roundabouts and other measures turn insufficient to handle the heavy volume of traffic.

Best choice

“Road flyovers are inevitable for the capital where the terrain is undulating and underpasses are not feasible as several areas are prone to flooding,” says T. Elangovan, Head, Traffic and Transportation, National Transportation Planning and Research Centre (NATPAC).

Half-a-dozen flyovers are needed at busy junctions at Pattom, Overbridge, Thampanoor and so on, he says.

Does the 520-metre-long Bakery Junction flyover fall into the category of flyovers?

“It is the first flyover in the State with service roads on both sides. The city is yet to get a flyover in its real sense with interchanges,” says Anilkumar Pandala, Project Director, Trivandrum Road Development Company Ltd., and Director, IL&FS Transportation Network Ltd.

“We have tried to give a pleasing look and to avoid hurting the minds of the road users. The flyover is not claustrophobic. It is the first flyover with a box structure in the entire State. Circular piers were used and the paint was carefully selected to make it pleasing to the eye.”

Mr. Elangovan says the proposed monorail has posed another challenge for planners to conceive the flyovers at busy junctions at Thampanoor, Overbridge, Pattom and Kazhakuttum.

As there should be no cross-structure above the monorail, he says, the remodelling of overhead and underground facilities should be taken up first.

Public Works Minister V.K. Ebrahim Kunju says the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, general consultant for the monorail project, NATPAC and the Kerala Mono Rail Corporation are jointly taking steps to ensure that the flyovers do not cause any problem.

Flyovers are not a solution for the narrow roads in the city. Flyovers are a solution to overcome congestion at Vellayambalam and Pattom, where land is available to accommodate them. Are flyovers getting outdated and developed countries tearing them down and looking for better alternatives? “Flyovers crowd a city and are an eyesore. Grade separators are not a solution for tackling the traffic problems on narrow roads. It is time to go beyond flyovers as the city needs more open space for the younger generation,” Mr. Pandala says.