Waiting at a railway gate is an integral part of the everyday lives of residents in some western suburbs.
For instance, residents of Veppampattu, Kakkalur, Sevvapettai and Thirunindravur have to cross the Sevvapet railway gate on the Chennai–Tiruvallur railway line to reach places like Perumalpattu, Thirumazhisai and Poonamalee.
This is because level crossing 14 at Veppampattu, which is 7 km away on the same line, has been closed for construction of a Rs. 29.50-crore overbridge, being built jointly by the highways department and the Southern Railway.
The work has been going on since April 2010 and though the railways has completed its portion of the work and the highways has completed works on the Perumalpattu side, the arm on the Chennai-Tiruvallur High (CTH) Road side is yet to be finished. The two-lane facility will be 1,045 metres long.
S. Kamala, a resident of Pattabiram, said thousands of students studying in colleges on the Perumalpattu side of the closed railway gate were forced to take a circuitous route. “The institutions, including an engineering college, an arts and science college and a polytechnic, have been in existence for over 20 years now. The frequency of gate openings is notorious and everybody knows better than to wait for them to open,” she said.
Murali, a resident of Avadi, said residents of many areas near CTH Road were forced to go all the way to Pattabiram or Tiruvallur to reach Poonamallee and the Chennai-Bangalore highway.
“Instead of travelling for 45 minutes, they have to drive for two hours now. Those working in industrial estates in Thirumazhisai and Poonamallee are also forced to wait for the gates to open. Residents, students and industrial workers will benefit if the work on the flyover is completed quickly,” he said.
Sources in the highways department said a stay obtained by a group of persons on land acquisition for the road overbridge was the reason for the delay.
“Residents had objected to the first alignment as it involved 8,084 sq. mt. of acquisition. It was then revised and now only 3,400 sq. mt. are required. But our work has been put on hold. If we get the land, the work can be completed within a year,” said an official.