Several steps mooted at a meeting may help relieve traffic conundrum at Sholinganallur junction

Traffic cops on rush hour duty at Sholinganallur junction go beyond the regular set of hand signals; they often throw up their hands in despair. With around 80,000 vehicles — most of them mammoth buses ferrying employees of IT/ITES companies — pouring into Old Mahabalipuram Road from sleeper towns on connecting roads, the junction resembles a three-ring circus. Also peeved are residents of apartments and houses near the junction, who are invariably trapped in knots of traffic for at least 20 minutes, in the first and last laps of their daily journey.

In an interesting move, residents and traffic cops are now putting their heads together to find simple, but sure-fire solutions. Semmenchery Traffic Police, under instructions from Chennai City Traffic Police, reportedly met these residents for suggestions.

Harsha Koda, secretary of Sabari Terrace Apartment Owners Association, said: “The amount of traffic flowing in from the sleeper towns on the Tambaram-Velacherry Main Road, via the Medavakkam-Sholinganallur Link Road, contributes immensely to the problem. On the positive side, this part of the issue is the easiest to solve. The traffic inflow from this section can be cut by half by allowing vehicles to take the road that goes through the Special Economic Zone and connects to OMR at Karapakkam. At present, the effectiveness of this wide and well-laid SEZ road is undermined by a trench, dug up at the point where it meets OMR. It’s believed to have been done to prevent four-wheelers from taking this road and avoiding the toll plaza on Medavakkam-Sholinganallur Road. Can’t Tamil Nadu Road Development Company (TNRDC) set up a toll booth on the SEZ road for four-wheelers headed towards establishments from Karapakkam to Madhya Kailash?”

A Semmenchery Traffic Inspector believes reducing pressure on the Sholinganallur junction in this manner will go a long way towards better management of the rush hour traffic. He said, “When fewer vehicles come in from the Medavakkam- Sholinganallur road, the waiting time for vehicles on the other three sections will come down.”

Residents also suggested that the short stretch that branches off from the ECR Link Road immediately after the toll plaza be opened for light vehicles alone. “A barrier can be erected to keep heavy vehicles out of this stretch. It can serve cars bound for offices on the section from Sholinganallur to Kelambakkam, by letting them avoid the junction,” said Mr. Koda

But of course, traffic is only part of the problem. “Unruly pedestrians add to our cup of woes. They don’t heed the warnings of the traffic signals. And, we are forced to watch and regulate their movements, in addition to directing vehicular traffic,” said a traffic constable. This puts undue stress on the small team on rush-hour duty at the junction. “Invariably, two traffic constables - a sub-inspector and an inspector - handle the job, assisted, on a temporary basis, by one law-and-order policeman and a TNRDC worker,” says the traffic inspector.

The residents have an answer to that too. Mr. Koda pointed out that shifting a foot-over bridge, about three hundred metres away on OMR, and another on the ECR Link Road, both of which are underused, to spots close to the junction is an easily workable solution to the pedestrian problem.

More In: Chennai