Residents feel they have to fight legal battles for better roads, Metro Rail and Monorail

It looks like policymakers want north Chennai to remain backward and congested — going by the announcements made in the state Assembly regarding infrastructure development in the city. While new link roads for south were announced, there was nothing for the north.

Residents of the north who were eagerly awaiting an announcement on extending the Metro Rail project to Tiruvottiyur in the current session, are rather disappointed. Some of them, who recently won a battle to convert the Royapuram railway station into a terminal, feel they have to fight similar battles for better roads, Metro Rail and Monorail.

Tiruvottiyur High Road and Ennore Expressway carry traffic well beyond their estimated capacities. Frequent accidents due to container trucks to and from the Chennai Port are reported. Over 5,000 container trucks use roads including Manali Oil Refinery Road, Inner Ring Road and Ennore Expressway that lead to the port. Projects to widen these arterial and other connected roads are not progressing as fast as they should. An elevated road along the Buckingham Canal running parallel to these facilities as envisaged in the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority's Master Plan II will be a boon to residents. The 17-km long road proposed from Ennore to Basin Bridge would allow residents to travel faster to the heart of Chennai without having to encounter container traffic. One kilometre of the elevated road would cost Rs. 70 crore to construct and work would progress fast as there are not many encroachments along the canal.

This link road was also part of a proposed Chennai High Speed Circular Transportation Corridor that would take off from Malar Hospital in Adyar. The detailed feasibility report had been completed and a detailed project report was to have been conducted for the Malar Hospital to Porur stretch. Planners say that since land acquisition is a major issue in creating new road networks, roads along waterways are the only solution. The banks of the waterways would be demarcated and the waterways themselves could be protected from encroachments. If the government has the will to form a new road, it will take up the project.

Smaller link roads like one proposed by the erstwhile Tiruvottiyur municipality from Sathyamurthy Nagar to Basin Road via Kargil Nagar and Rajaji Nagar too would help. All that is required is land acquisition in the Glass Factory, which falls in the middle. It is a small 30-feet road. But if connected, vehicles plying to Minjur, Ponneri and Manali can use the facility. Considering the importance of measures to decongest traffic, the government should pay greater attention at the stage of planning. One way of going about this would be to create a traffic plan at both micro and macro levels taking into account the specifics of each and every street. It should not merely be a work to rework the traffic flow but something that looks at various aspects from pedestrian movement to road engineering. Shouldn't the government think in terms of setting up a mission for improving the transportation network in north Chennai on the lines of other missions for sanitation and urban renewal?

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