Many corridors in the capital city witness chaotic scenes

Traffic planners are keeping their fingers crossed in ensuring smooth flow of traffic as key junctions in busy corridors in the capital developed under the 41.95 km City Road Improvement Project (CRIP) has become fully saturated and is turning to be a motorist's nightmare.

The surging traffic volume in nine busy junctions—Vellayambalam, Kowdiar, Musuem, Palayam, Statue, East Fort, Thampanoor, Pattom, and Medical College—has come at a time when the CRIP project is all set for completion by September last.

In many corridors like Vellayamblam-RR Lamp that are linked to these junctions, chaotic scenes are witnessed during the morning and evening peak hours.

At Vellayambalam roundabout, three traffic police personnel are posted in the morning and evening to avoid traffic snarls. Efforts to shift the statue of social reformer Ayyankali to a corner and reduce the roundabout had not worked out due to opposition from some quarters. Often, it is a bumper to bumper ride from the Vellayambalam junction to the RR Lamp as the busy stretch had become fully saturated and land acquisition was not resorted to in this CRIP corridor.

The 13 per cent growth rate in vehicle population, increase in the traffic in the capital by over six per cent annually, overdependence on personalised mode of transport, and the inability of the public transport system to raise to the expected levels of citizens, especially office-goers and students, are cited as the main reason for the surge in the traffic volume.

Traffic volume

The traffic volume at Vellayambalam junction that was 10,509 pcu (passenger car units)/hour in 2002 has touched 18,123 pcu/hour already. At Kowdiar junction, it has gone up from 3,669 pcu/hr in 2002 to 7,931 pcu/hr. At Museum, it has gone up from 5,674 pcu/hr nine years ago to 7,625 pcu/hr. In the busy Palayam junction, the traffic volume has moved up from 10,371 pcu/hr in 2002 to 18,398 pcu/hour in 2011. The traffic volume at Statue junction along the arterial road has gone up from 9,096 pcu/hr in 2002 to 12,224 pcu/hr.

At East Fort, the traffic volume has gone up from 10,422 pcu/hr to 16,000 pcu/hr. In the case of Thampanoor, the traffic volume has increased from 6,837 pcu/hr in 2002 to 9,188 pcu/hr. At Bakery junction, the commissioning of the flyover has bought relief the road users, although the traffic volume has moved up from 7,512 pcu/hr in 2002 to 10,095 pcu/hr.In the case of Pattom, the traffic volume has increased from 8,217 pcu/hour in 2002 to 15,043 pcu/hr and to 8,625 pcu/hr from 5,674 pcu/hr at the Medical College junction.

Traffic planners say a junction can handle 1,000 pcu/hour smoothly and it has to be converted into a roundabout once the traffic volume goes above it. A roundabout can handle 8,000 pcu/hour with ease and a flyover will have to be constructed once the traffic volume crosses 10,000 pcu/hour at a junction. Going by this yardstrick, many busy junctions in the CRIP corridors that have become saturated will have to go for junction improvements sooner or later.

Synchronising signals

The CRIP under the Capital Region Development Programme, was designed in 2002 to deal with the burgeoning road traffic in the city. The project, that included the development of 42 km of road along 12 busy corridors, was envisaged to meet the traffic demands of the city for another 20 years. The brain behind the CRIP N.S. Sreenivasan told The Hindu that the “road widening works cannot go on and had to be stopped.''