Finally, residents of Old Washermenpet in north Chennai can heave a sigh of relief as work on the Monegar Choultry Road subway nears completion.

After watching the work alternately progress and halt from March 2008 onwards, residents and shopkeepers of the famous cloth market on Monegar Choultry Road, say that had the subway been in south Chennai, work would have progressed faster.

K. Saravanakumar, a resident of Manikanda Mudali Street in Old Washermenpet said that his child was in class I when work started and was now in class IV. “They kept giving us deadlines. Our children study in Broadway, but to reach the school we have to cross two bridges,” he said.

The vehicular subway is located near the Government Stanley Hospital and patients visiting the hospital too suffer. “Many people cannot afford taxis or autorickshaws and have to walk. Due to the one-ways for this work we are forced to go four additional kilometres to reach these hospitals. Policemen do not allow us to take a short cut on the one-way even if we have patients,” said K.Kumar, an autorickshaw driver.

Shopkeepers at the cloth market say that many shoppers stopped patronising the shops as they had to take a circuitous route. K. Sumathi, who took an autorickshaw to shop for clothes before Deepavali at M.C.Road, said though she saved money on the stuff she bought, she spent Rs.150 on the autorickshaw to reach the place from Anna Salai.

Many former residents of the area, who have family graves at the Cemetery attached to the St. Roque’s Church in the area, too are forced to take a round about route while bringing the deceased. According to Peter Gerald, priest at the church, the devout are put to untold trouble while reaching the place.

The deadline for the subway has been pushed several times. When it was proposed in 2006, its cost was Rs. 9.25 crore but by 2011 it had escalated to Rs.15.75 crore. The work order was issued in January 2008 and work began in March that year.

A portion of the subway was built by the Railways and the approaches by the Chennai Corporation. In February 2011, the civic body set a deadline of April 2011, which was later extended to July.

Works including construction of stormwater drains and laying of service lanes are nearing completion. Electrification, painting and laying of bituminous topping are to be taken up soon.

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