The first day of a new traffic arrangement on Thursday in and around Anna Nagar left residents and commuters irate, confused and short-tempered. Many were prepared for the delay but not for the long trudge home. Those depending on public transport were caught unawares as the travel time grew longer.
The traffic changes were necessitated to facilitate the Metro Rail work on Anna Nagar II Avenue and 100 Feet Road, which serve as the gateway to various thickly populated residential localities, including Mogappair, Padi and Ambattur. The usually quiet residential localities in Anna Nagar such as 13th Avenue, 5th Avenue and Lotus Colony, bore the brunt of the vehicular traffic.
A senior official of Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) said it took almost 30 minutes for buses on the route to complete their trip. A resident of Anna Nagar who travelled by 7F from Anna Nagar West to Purasawalkam Tank said the bus took a long detour but did not bypass any of its stops.
Though R. Surendran, a resident of Mogappair, had anticipated a delay, he was caught unawares on Thursday as his trip to his workplace on Whites Road in Royapettah took two hours. “It took 25 minutes to cross the 2-km stretch from 100 Feet Road to 13th Avenue. I had informed my office that I would be late by an hour. I left home at 9.30 a.m. and reached office at 10.59 a.m. Those who were new to the area were caught unawares by the new one-ways and added to the confusion,” he said.
A teacher from the Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Choolaimedu said many students were late to school. “I left home around 8 a.m. so I was early to school. But I have no idea how I am going to reach home now. How long will this diversion be in place,” she asked.
The slow movement of traffic hit almost all road-users. A trip that generally takes 30 minutes by share autorickshaw lasted over an hour. Quite a few motorists sought traffic police personnel's assistance posted at junctions from Shanthi Colony up to 18th Avenue and Anna Nagar roundabout.
Srilatha, a bank employee who was returning home from Nelson Manickam Road in the evening, was upset that she had to walk an entire street from Shanthi Colony to reach Blue Star. “Why should I get into a share autorickshaw if I cannot get down closer home,” she said.
Share autorickshaw driver Kamalakannan, who said he usually made at least a dozen trips from Santhi theatre on Anna Salai to Thirumangalam junction in Anna Nagar, settled for fewer, shorter trips. “I have made six trips since morning and there is so much traffic that my legs are aching. I cannot drive. If you want to go up to the Anna arch get in,” he said to commuters, who wanted to go to Anna Nagar roundabout or Shanthi Colony. When some commuters protested, he said, “I will miss out on some passengers but I can still get enough people who travel up to the Anna arch.”
According to Sanjay Arora, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), the new arrangement would be in force for a few months as three underground Metro Rail stations are coming up between the Anna Nagar roundabout and the Tirumangalam junction. “Motorists are bound to be confused initially. Confusion will remain until people are fully aware of what roads to take. The real feedback [from road users] will come after three days. We have put up an alert on Facebook and issued 2,000 pamphlets in that area,” he said.