Upgraded roads, grade separators, outer ring road, improved transport system, Monorail will play major role

Chennai city will change beyond recognition in a few years. Thirty arterial roads have been selected for upgradation, grade separators are coming up, the Outer Ring Road is under formation, public transport systems are set to improve and Monorail is coming. The city will have more road space, better public transport, be pedestrian-friendly and far less congested.

The State government has already set the ball rolling for decongesting the city and improving traffic junctions with the announcement of 22 projects in the Chennai Metropolitan Area. The detailed project reports for grade separators at four junctions and foot over-bridges at seven locations are under preparation on a priority basis. Sources in the Highways Department said the grade separators are expected to be completed in three years. Already, work is on to construct several flyovers and subways by the Chennai Corporation and the Highways Department.

Official sources, citing projections for the future, say the Chennai Metropolitan Area is expected to grow into a mega city with a population of more than 10 million in the next 10 years. And correspondingly, the vehicle population too would increase.

Presently, there are 33.75 lakh vehicles including 5.67 lakh cars, 25.81 lakh two-wheelers and 63,640 autorickshaws in the city. Keeping these factors in mind, projects including Phase II of Outer Ring Road and Rajiv Gandhi Salai have been announced to help decongest the city.

“The ORR will become the future growth corridor of the city. Around 95 per cent of the land acquisition has been completed for Phase II connecting Nemilichery with Minjur. The formation of the road will lead to more residential areas coming alongside and ultimately decongest the city. We have already set aside land for commercial development along the corridor. The idea is to take the development up to the north. We will have 180 degree of development, with the existing city being the hub, the link roads being spokes and the ORR the outer ring,” a top official in the Highways department said.

Rajiv Gandhi Salai, East Coast Road, Grand Southern Trunk Road, Grand Northern Trunk Road, Bangalore Road are the link roads. Steps are also being taken to form new link roads including those from Sadayankuppam Road to Ennore Expressway and Tambaram Sanatorium to Outer Ring Road. These facilities are expected to encourage people to move out of the city.

While stating that in the past, there has been no major effort to develop roads linking the city's radial arterials, S.P. Sekar, professor, Department of Planning, Anna University, says judicious planning of the Monorail network must be carried out to plug gaps in the road grid. “Future radial roads have to be identified and connected to ease the vehicular load on arterial roads,” he adds.

Officials say they are implementing projects based on the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority's Second Master Plan and the time-frames set in it. V. Santhanam, a resident of Chromepet said, “Though projects are being drawn up and announced with great fanfare, they take a very long time for completion. While work is on for laying major roads like Oragadam Road, nobody bothers about the interior roads in the suburbs. Earlier, we had layouts and they used to have smaller roads. Now with gated communities coming up, such interior roads are not being laid… they are being ignored.”

Sources in the CMDA say, “The proposed expansion of the city would help in improving small roads in the suburbs, which help in relieving pressure off the major roads. So far, the focus has been on improving traffic on major roads. Adequate attention has not been paid to roads in municipal and panchayat areas as they do not have the funding or the expertise. The Chennai Corporation is already preparing a report on how to strengthen infrastructure in areas that would be merged with the city,” the sources say.

Residents, who welcome the government's move to form new roads, construct grade separators and install foot over-bridges, say grade separators at Koyambedu and Padi and flyovers at Perambur and G.N.Chetty Road have helped eased traffic in their areas.

T. Gunaseelan of Ambattur, who works in Velachery says the grade separators at Koyambedu, Padi and Kathipara had helped him cut travel time to office. “Earlier, I used to avoid going by bus as a lot of time used to be taken up just for waiting on the road. It used to take 30 minutes to travel from Guindy railway station to Kathipara and another 40 minutes from Thirumangalam to Koyambedu. Now with the flyovers, travel by two-wheeler has become more comfortable. However, lighting and signages need to be improved,” he says.

(With inputs from Ajai Sreevatsan, K. Lakshmi and Deepa H Ramakrishnan)

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