Most pedestrians avoid taking the foot overbridges (FOBs) in the city. Shyamala is one of them.
“I use the opening in the median to cross the road. I keep a watch on the vehicles and when there is a lull I cross. It is better than climbing up the steps on the rusty foot overbridge,” says Shyamala who is a resident of Okkiampettai in Thoraipakkam, .
A police constable regulates traffic near the FOB at Saidapet Taluk Office Road as local residents have refused to use the facility, expressing difficulty in climbing up. Similarly, at Nungambakkam, which has two FOBs, most pedestrians, crossing the road, take on the traffic.
“Subways are utilised more often because there are just 20 steps to climb down. In the case of the FOBs, there are 40 steps that one must climb up first and then, down. Also, one is exposed to the elements and to traffic below. However, there is not much difference in the cost of construction. Today, a subway costs Rs. 3.5 crore and an FOB, Rs. 3 crore,” explained an engineer with the highways department.
In the city, there are 17 subways of which 11 are on Anna Salai and Grand Southern Trunk Road, one on Walltax Road, two on Poonamallee High Road, two on Kamaraj Salai and one on Rajaji Salai.
B. Subramaniam, a resident of Avadi, who commutes to Parrys Corner for work, said that there had been occasions when he had tried to cross the road near Chennai Central but recently, he had discontinued the practice. “I prefer to cross the roads by using the subways at all times,” he said.
FOBs inside suburban railway stations are better used as there are fewer stairs to climb and there is a greater degree of risk involved in crossing the tracks.
T. Ravikumar, president, All India Rail and Bus Passengers’ Welfare Association, says, passengers, however, do not use them during the night. “FOBs at Ambattur, Pattaravakkam, Avadi and Thirumullaivoyal do not have enough lights and there is very little security. They are not clean either,” he added.
Rajiv Gandhi Salai, popularly known as OMR, has the highest number of FOBs: 14 in all. However, barring the one near Tidel Park, the rest are used sparingly by pedestrians. Sometimes, groups of youngsters can be found sitting on the FOBs at Seevaram, PTC quarters, Karapakkam and Perungudi.
G. Sathish of Sholinganallur said a few FOBs including those near Sholinganallur Aavin Dairy and on Akkarai Road seemed to serve little purpose as they had been built at unsuitable locations. “We need an FOB at the Sholinganallur junction, which is very busy. But the FOB has been installed at least half a kilometre away. Hardly anybody uses it,” he said.
The FOB at Seevaram, whose maintenance is carried out by the Tamil Nadu Road Development Company, has gained notoriety as a spot often visited by patrons of a nearby Tasmac shop. Pieces of broken glass from liquor bottles, caps and 3D stickers from the bottles can be found littering the sides of the FOB.