And forced the State to take a detour after demolition efforts over the past few days failed

New Year’s Day, 1986, witnessed the inauguration of a very important landmark in the city — the ornamental twin arches of Anna Nagar. It was built to commemorate the platinum jubilee of former Chief Minister C.N. Annadurai and the work was completed in just 105 days.

The past week, work had been afoot to bring down the mega structures that stand at the entrance of a well-planned area within the city. However, several issues, including rains and machinery problems, plagued the work and slowed it down. On Wednesday, the work was brought to a halt with Chief Minister Jayalalithaa deciding to retain the 57-feet-high structure and move the proposed flyover’s arm by 20 metres.

The delay in bringing down the mammoth structure proved a blessing in disguise as it attracted the attention of the Chief Minister. Sources said no amount of bull-dozing or use of explosives was capable of bringing down such a gigantic structure.

“It is not a structure that could simply be razed with precise calculations. To demolish it, we would have to cordon off the entire area, which would have been impossible. The work was taken up on the condition that traffic would be allowed through one side of the arch,” said a source in the Highways Department.

The latest decision would mean a difference in the turning radius of the flyover and a change in the weaving length (where vehicles change lanes to get onto the flyover) from 100 metres to, say, 40 metres, and reduced vehicle speed at that point.

Repair works will be carried out on the arches to mend it in places where the machinery cut into the structure. The incisions will be opened further and the steel rods inside the structure will be tested for strength and reinforced. The arches were designed by Ganapathy Sthapathi who was honoured by then Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran during their inauguration.

Other arches in the State, however, have not been as lucky. Former officials recalled how three arches constructed to commemorate the world Tamil conference in Tanjore were pulled down to make way for two flyovers and road widening.

One arch at Nagapattinam Road was demolished as it stood at the centre of the flyover and another at Pattukottai Road had to go to make way for an approach road to a flyover. The third one, near Tamil University, was brought down to widen the road at that point, the official said.

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