The 140-km expressway is every speed junkie’s nightmare come true; 5 die in Saturday accident
At least two accidents occur on East Coast Road (ECR) every week, on the stretch between Thiruvanmiyur and Puducherry.
Early Saturday, a car rammed a parked lorry at Muttukadu, killing five persons including a sub-inspector of police travelling in the vehicle.
According to the police, the car was speeding at around 100 kmph and the driver is believed to have dozed off behind the wheel.
With Christmas and New Year around the corner, the traffic police are a concerned lot. The 140-km, 11-year-old expressway, with its barrier-free smooth roads and lax police patrolling, is every speed junkie’s nightmare come true. Annually, about 75 persons die in accidents on the stretch.
“There is very little traffic congestion on the stretch beyond Akkarai near Sholinganallur and that’s where speeding begins. We have to stretch our limited resources, including manpower, to patrol the entire stretch from Thiruvanmiyur to Mamallapuram, a distance of around 50 km,” said an officer with the Mamallapuram police.
The stretch between Thiruvanmiyur and Akkarai, a distance of 11.8 km, is a four-lane maintained by the State highways department, whereas the stretch between Akkarai and Puducherry is a two-lane facility maintained by Tamil Nadu Road Development Company (TNRDC).
There is heavy traffic on the stretch between Thiruvanmiyur and Akkarai. There are also several pedestrian crossings that do not permit free movement of vehicles on the highway. There are 94 streets on both sides of the stretch between Thiruvanmiyur and Akkarai and 38 pedestrian crossings, including 19 major ones.
Motorists who use the stretch frequently say they are in the path of danger because often, they are unable to predict oncoming traffic. Besides, more than half the pedestrian crossings are within 50 metres of each other between the two points on the stretch.
For instance, Vettuvankani near Injambakkam is said to be the most accident-prone spot along the stretch. This is mainly due to the presence of seven pedestrian crossings within just 100 metres. The traffic police have closed four of them and deployed their men along the the rest, an officer said.
“However, none of the other crossings between Thiruvanmiyur and Akkarai is manned by the police. The entire stretch has just one speed breaker,” said S. Joseph, a resident of Kottivakkam.
Also, the stretch between Akkarai and Puducherry has neither has a median nor street lights or reflectors, said M. Kothandapani, chairman of Mamallapuram town panchayat.
In an effort to reduce accidents, the State highways department has constructed a crash barrier between Thiruvanmiyur and Akkarai at a cost of Rs. 1.6 crore. The TNRDC also took up correction of curves on the stretch beyond Akkarai.
It is now processing a detailed project report for turning the stretch up to Mamallapuram into a four-lane. Service lanes and a median will come up on the 35-km stretch, an officer said.