Residents encountering a slowdown of traffic on Kalaignar Karunanidhi Salai, a vital link between East Coast Road and Rajiv Gandhi Salai, may soon have a respite. A portion of the bridge under construction on Kalaignar Karunanidhi Road will be thrown open for use by the end of May.

The ongoing work is part of a project taken up by the Water Resources Department (WRD) to improve South Buckingham canal under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. The existing 40-metre long, 8-m wide bridge across the canal is being widened to a 100-metre long, 16-m wide facility at a cost of Rs. 18 crore.

Residents said that the widening of the bridge on the road connecting Sholinganallur and Akkarai must be completed soon. Chitra Shanmugam, a resident of Karapakkam, said that many people from Palavakkam and Neelankarai use the Kalaignar Karunanidhi Road to reach their offices on Rajiv Gandhi Salai.

“Traffic slowdown is common on the road particularly during peak hours. The department must speed up the work that was started several months ago to allow free flow of traffic. Zebra crossings must be provided for pedestrians who often risk accidents,” she said.

WRD officials said the bridge is being widened to accommodate free flow of water on the canal, which is also being broadened. The remaining portion of the bridge will be ready by October. A separate carriageway would be provided for incoming vehicles bound to ECR.

The work to deepen, desilt the canal bed and the construction of a retaining wall in the 13-km stretch from Okkiyam Maduvu to Muttukadu would also be completed by the end of this year. Once the canal's carrying capacity is doubled from its present 5,000 cubic feet per second, many localities along the Rajiv Gandhi Salai would be relieved from inundation.

A shortcut channel that was to be constructed from Okkiyam Maduvu to the sea is facing obstacles owing to land acquisition issues. Improvement work on the South Buckingham canal in the stretch between Thiruvanmiyur and Okkiyam Maduvu is also on .

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