While for most residents the traffic jams caused by the closing of the Kodambakkam flyover a couple of days ago were a source of hardship, to N. S. Ekambaram it brought back memories of a bygone era.
Mr. Ekambaram, former assistant division engineer who worked on the flyover, said, “The last time I remember the area being so crowded was when the flyover was first opened to the public by the then Chief Minister, M. Bhaktavatsalam. Except, then it was not traffic that jammed the roads but a sea of people!”
The 2039-feet-long Kodambakkam overbridge built across the railway line was declared open on September 16, 1965. With 28 spans and a 32-feet-wide carriageway, the flyover also boasted of white, reflecting kerbs on the sides of the road — a boon to motorists driving at night.
The foundation stone was laid by the State’s Chief Minister K. Kamaraj in 1963 and its construction was completed on September 5, 1965. According to Mr. Ekamabaram, the work was completed two months ahead of schedule. It was the first flyover the State government constructed in the city. Until then, the Madras Corporation Authority had carried out such projects.
Eighty-year-old Mr. Ekambaram reminisced, “As the Chief Minister’s car went over the flyover swarming crowds jumped over the parapets and flooded the road, blocking the Chief Minister’s path for over half-an-hour.”
The Chief Minister, he said, rather than getting annoyed was thrilled at the public’s enthusiasm and waved at the crowds incessantly.
This article has been corrected for a factual error.