Work on the much-awaited project to widen Chennai-Tiruvallur High Road (CTH) between Padi and Thiruninravur began on Friday.

The State Highways Department has taken up the Rs. 98 crore-project to widen the 22-km-long stretch of the CTH Road into a four-lane facility. Dotted with commercial establishments and hospitals, the road is a vital link for residents of many fast-developing residential areas such as Mannurpet, Padi, Ambattur, Thirumullaivoyal, Avadi and Thiruninravur to the city.

The road widening work, which has been divided into three packages, began at stretches in Nemilicherry and Ambattur telephone exchange on Friday.

The two-lane CTH Road that does not have traffic signals or proper street illumination will be widened from existing 10 metres to 18 metres.

For nearly two decades now, residents have been fighting for widening of the narrow, accident-prone road that is used by over 50,000 vehicles daily. Welcoming the move, residents said that the department must ensure that the encroachments that were removed do not return.

Seenu Tirumalai, a resident of Pattabiram, said that pedestrians’ safety must also be taken into consideration. “Hundreds of people cross the road to use railway stations daily. Zebra crossings must be provided in important junctions,” he said.

Officials of the Highways Department, which has been maintaining the stretch after the National Highways Authority of India handed it over to the State, said that nearly 95 per cent of the identified 700 encroachments along the road have been removed.

They plan to complete the project by October next.

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