Residents, BHEL employees, students, bear the brunt

With construction of the two new road overbridges at Ariyamangalam and Tiruverumbur making slow progress, the city-stretch of the Tiruchi-Thanjavur National Highway is witnessing heavy traffic congestion as the two construction sites have emerged as major traffic bottlenecks.

With no traffic diversion arrangement in place, thousands of residents including employees of Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, students of the major educational institutions located in Kattur, Tiruverumbur and Thuvakudi have to contend with traffic snarls every day, especially during peak hours.

The situation is particularly worse at Ariyamangalam where the work is progressing at snail's pace, as vehicles queued up for long stretches are forced to move bumper-to-bumper.

The two bridges are being constructed as part of the four-lane project on the Tiruchi-Thanjavur National Highway 67. Both the new ROBs would run parallel to the existing bridges, which would be strengthened to accommodate traffic on one direction.

Though the four-lane work has been completed between Thuvakudi and Thanjavur, work on the city stretch from Ariyamangalam to Thuvakudi continues to drag. The partial commissioning and the collection of toll on the four-lane highway from May last year, before the completion of the work on the city stretch, drew sharp criticisms from various residents welfare organisations.

The construction of the two bridges was expected to be completed by early January/February 2012. But construction of the bridge at Ariyamanglam has been rather slow, though the work at Tiruverumbur has been moving at a relatively faster pace. While the location of bus halts close to the work site at Tiruverumbur is causing much of the traffic congestion, at Ariyamangalam the proximity of the Uyyakondan channel, where another bridge is being constructed, has been posing problems. NHAI sources attribute the flow of water in the channel and the rocky terrain at the ROB site for the slow progress of work at Ariyamangalam.

“It has become an everyday ordeal for us. It is a free for all as buses and heavy vehicles entering the city from Thanjavur line up in three rows on one side.

Most often, there are no traffic cops to regulate the traffic. It is ridiculous to find two or three cops hanging around with little work right through the day at the Ariyamangalam junction, less than half-a-kilometre away,” says Raju of Thuvakudi. Motorists also point to the poor condition of the road just before the Ariyamangalam bridge on their sides and demand temporary repairs.

Some of the residents suggest that the traffic police should at least come up with diversion plan at least for heavy vehicles including trucks carrying heavy engineering equipment from industries in the belt.

NHAI sources said the Tiruverumbur bridge is expected to be completed by end of March and the one at Ariyamangalam by May.