With heavy vehicles heading for the Tiruchi-Chennai bypass entering the Kumbakonathan Salai, traffic often comes to a standstill.
It is a daily ordeal for residents of Tiruvanaikovil to negotiate the traffic on Tiruvanaikovil Trunk Road these days. Choked with heavy and continuous traffic beyond its capacity, the narrow stretch has become a major bottleneck, often witnessing bumper-to-bumper traffic for most part of the day.
Apart from being a pilgrimage and tourist destination, Tiruvanaikovil is a prime residential locality in the island town of Srirangam. The traffic snarl from Mambazhasalai Junction to Regional Transport Office, almost near the Coleroon check post, has become the norm rather than an exception.
The weak and narrow bridge over the railway track at Periyar Nagar compounds the woes of commuters every day. With heavy vehicles heading for Tiruchi-Chennai bypass entering the Kumbakonathan Salai, right at the descent of the bridge, traffic often comes to a standstill.
The problem started in 2010 after the Oyamari Road was closed for traffic to facilitate the construction of the road over bridge (ROB) along the right bank of the Cauvery. The Kumbakonathan Salai became the major link road for heavy vehicles, including mofussil buses to enter and exit the city.
A large number of vehicles converge from all three directions, causing a chaos at the Kumbakonthan Salai junction. Traffic cops at the junction struggle to cope with the situation. Motorists complain that it takes about 20 minutes during peak hours to cross the one-km stretch.
“This has been a daily nightmare for us in the past three to four years. The situation turns worse during the peak hours, especially between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. till late in the night. Apart from the closure of the Oyamari Road, the ever increasing number of vehicles aggravates the problem. A solution could be in sight once the Oyamari road is reopened for traffic and the Periyar Nagar ROB is widened,” says L. Rajarajan, a resident of Tiruvanaikovil.
Although the State government has sanctioned funds for the construction of a new bridge replacing the narrow bridge near Periyar Nagar, the Highways Department says it cannot take up the project till the completion of Oyamari ROB citing traffic diversion.
Residents of Tiruvanaikovil and beyond, who have to commute to the city every day, accuse the traffic police of being insensitive to their woes as minor accidents are becoming frequent. “A better solution can be to introduce and strictly enforce a one-way traffic system on the Trunk Road. All the four-wheelers headed for Srirangam and beyond should be diverted via the Amma Mandapam Road and only vehicles entering the city could go through the Trunk Road. Such regulations are enforced even in smaller towns and it is time for the city police to wake up,” says N. Ramakrishnan, a civic activist and resident of Panamangalam, who commutes every day to the city.
Residents cite lack of road sense among the drivers of private town buses as they stop in the middle of the narrow road in Tiruvanaikovil, tourist buses, and the encroachments along the trunk road as reasons for the problem.
Encroachments along the road have been marked but have not been removed so far, says one of the residents. Pedestrians cannot cross the road, especially in front of the Sannidhi Street in Tiruvanaikovil and accidents have become frequent, they complain. Some demand that the police put up an automatic traffic signal at the Kumbakonathan Junction to regulate the traffic effectively.