A road over bridge across the Railway level crossing in Lalgudi was a felt need of the residents of the town for long. But little did they imagine that the project will suffer a fitful start, putting them into lot more trouble.

The project, sanctioned at an estimate of Rs.20 crore a couple of years ago, took off a few months back only to come to halt recently. The project site on the Lalgudi Main Road now presents a picture of chaotic traffic, with gaping trenches dug up for erecting concrete piles left incomplete, concrete rods and steel encasings dangerously protruding outside and mounds of sand and blue metal strewn all around for nearly half a kilometre.

Getting across this arterial road has become a horrendous experience for residents, much worse than the trouble of having to wait in long queues whenever the Railway gates were closed to allow trains to pass over on the busy Tiruchi-Chennai section.

Motorists have been forced to make their way criss-crossing the project site. “The project no doubt would be a boon to the people of Lalgudi. But it is giving a nightmarish experiences to us now,” regrets R.Ramesh, a doctor in the town. Shifting a patient in an emergency involves a huge risk as most of the private nursing homes or the government hospital can be reached only after crossing this hurdle. Accidents have also become frequent on the roads, he says.

Traffic snarls have become the order of the day, especially during peak hours. “It takes more than 30 to 45 minutes to cross over the stretch due to traffic jams during the peak hours,” says P.Viswanathan, a farmers' association leader. Town buses operating to Kookur, Santhamangalam, and other villages are now being terminated near the All Women Police Station and commuters have to walk about a kilometre to reach the bus stand. With the LNP Girls Higher Secondary School right in the middle of the project site and the government boys higher secondary school on the Tiruchi Road, school students are the worst affected, he says.

Though some of the locals allege that no work has been underway at the site over the past couple of months, sources in Highways Department maintain that the work has been in progress till mid-January. The work was suspended briefly, they say, as it has been decided to increase the depth of the piles taking into account the soil condition. The work would begin in the next few days and go on in full swing as even the land acquisition process has reached the final stages, the sources say.

Lalgudi MLA A.Soundarapandian too denies that the work has been halted and affirms it would resume shortly.

Many residents also feel that proper arrangements have not been made to divert traffic. The road passing through Thiruvalluvar Nagar, through which vehicles are to be diverted, is in a bad shape, says Dr.Ramesh. Another alternate road passing along the banks of Ayyan Vaikal, leading to the Tiruchi Main Road, could be re-laid. Roads connecting various interior villages through the Akilandeswari Nagar are also in a poor shape. If these roads were repaired or re-laid, it would ease the difficulties of the travelling public, he says.

Official sources say that the road passing through Thiruvalluvar Nagar would be blacktopped soon as the tender has been awarded already. But bumpy rides seem to be ahead of the town residents as it could take a couple of years for the bridge to get ready.

WHAT THEY SAY

P.Viswanathan (121274098), farmers' association president – The construction work has made slow progress. School students are the worst affected.

A.Soundarapandian (121274099), MLA (DMK), Lalgudi – The work was briefly suspended because of a technical revision. Construction would resume within the next few days.

P.Sakthivel (121274103), advocate – The project should be expedited and completed soon in the interest of the people.