Facilities along Police Commissioner Road, Pantheon Road to be opened soon

Chennai Corporation will soon inaugurate redesigned footpaths that are disabled-friendly along Police Commissioner Road and Pantheon Road, in Egmore. This is part of the civic body’s efforts to make footpaths along at least 75 roads in the city disabled-friendly.

“The idea is to give priority to pedestrians especially since the city has become the accident capital of the country,” a senior official said.

“We want to make the footpaths barrier-free so that the elderly, children and those on wheel chairs can use the pedestrian facilities and not have to get onto the road. For this, ramps are coming up wherever necessary. Though we have had objections from a few home owners regarding the ramps, we have convinced them about the necessity,” explained an official.

Corporation sources said that currently, work was on at 21 spots at a cost of Rs. 45 crore. These include Whannels Road, Gandhi Irwin Road,  Conran Smith Rd, KB Dasan Road, Shanti Colony from Inner Ring Road, Tank Bund Road near Loyola College, Sterling Road, Halls Road, South Usman Road, and Besant Nagar 2nd Avenue.

Smitha Sadasivan, member of the Disability Rights Alliance, which has been working on the project with the Chennai Corporation and a group of NGOs including Chennai City Connect, ITDP and Transparent Chennai, said the group has been conducting periodic access audits.

“People should feel a sense of ownership towards pavements. There is enough space for vehicles on the roads. Motorists should understand that pedestrians also have equity of space. If people come and plant saplings or put stones or remove tiles, it nullifies the whole purpose of providing an accessible environment,” she said.

According to the traffic count on each road, the size of the carriage way is being reduced to accommodate wider footpaths. Segregating people and parked vehicles from fast moving vehicles improves the safety of all, explained a source.  

The space around trees on footpaths will have grates to ensure water percolation and also allow people to walk. Dust bins would be placed wherever necessary and appropriate street furniture would be provided including pedestrian lighting.

Crossings are being designed keeping safety and wheelchair-friendliness in mind. The Corporation is paying utility providers to shift their junction boxes from footpaths, explained a designer associated with the project.

G. Ramakrishnan, a resident of Besant Nagar, who welcomed the move to widen footpaths, said that care must be taken to clean them on a regular basis.

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