Malls and hospitals may have made life comfortable for residents on Arcot Road, but they have also extracted their pound of flesh. T. Srinivasan reports

The rapid development of Chennai's suburbs has come at a cost. Take the case of neighbourhoods on Arcot Road, for instance.

Residents living in Vadapalani and and nearby areas such as Virugambakkam, Saligramam, Alwarthirunagar and Valasaravakkam welcome the many shopping centres, institutes and malls that keep coming up on this arterial road linking Nungambakkam and Porur.

But they grudge the the price they pay for these comforts.

Travelling on this road has become a nerve-racking affair. The number of vehicles on this road is growing exponentially.

Arcot Road with its Vijaya Forum Mall, Big Bazaar and Megamart and a large number of hospitals and educational institutions, is almost always clogged.

It hits the nadir on weekends, with thousands of vehicles queuing up to enter the malls. A few cinema halls on the stretch also contribute to traffic problem.

Residents blame the situation on lack of traffic enforcement, absence of police personnel at intersections, non-functional signals, encroachments, and the lack of road sense among motorists.

Share-autos plying from the Vadapalani junction to Porur add to the congestion. They break traffic rules with impunity. They jump signals and over-speed, putting other vehicle users at risk. Another problem faced by motorists is haphazard parking of vehicles belonging to film companies.

Driving through Arcot Road on a rainy day is a nightmare.

The North-East monsoon is yet to kick in, but already the patchwork done by the Chennai Corporation on the main road, following minor showers, has wornout.

The irony is, during peak hours, it takes a minimum of half-an-hour for an MTC bus from Vadapalani depot to reach the Murugan Temple bus stop, which is hardly a quarter km away. The Metro Rail work at the 100-feet Road junction also contributes to the chaos.

Ambulances caught in traffic jams have become a common sight.

Students and office-goers taking the Arcot are a harried lot, having to stand in crowded buses for long hours before reaching their destinations.

Locals feel it is time the authorities and the police woke up to the reality and took swift action to ensure unhindered flow of traffic.

More In: Downtown | Chennai