Chennai

Pedestrian plaza at T. Nagar almost ready, but concerns abound

Residents worry that broad pavements and parked vehicles may significantly narrow the carriageways, leading to congestion in the already crowded location

With the pedestrian plaza in Pondy Bazaar all set to open in October, residents in T. Nagar have expressed concerns over the anticipated increase in congestion caused by the narrow carriageway, and the lack of space for shoppers to walk with vehicles parked on the pathway.

On average, at least 5,000 people walk on either side of Pondy Bazaar during peak hours. However, they have just three metres of space on the pavements. To help them, a ‘pedestrian plaza’ is being constructed on Thyagaraya Road in Pondy Bazaar, from Panagal Park to the Teynampet junction.

Three phases

Work is being carried out on the stretch in three phases — Reach 1 covers Panagal Park to Thanikchalam Junction, Reach 2 runs from Thanikachalam Road to Boag Road junction, and Reach 3 from Boag Road junction to Anna Salai.

The pedestrian plaza will have everything from colourful benches, play areas for children and trendy street lights. A carnival is being planned as part of its inauguration. On other days, several games and fun activities are expected to be conducted along the plaza.

Though the civic body’s intention to beautify the stretch and make it accessible for pedestrian shoppers has been welcomed by residents, the plaza appears far from pedestrian-friendly as on date.

“Cars are parked on both sides of the road, which has become narrower owing to the broad pavements. As there is no median now, pedestrians cross the road indiscriminately and motorists, too, are finding it tough to navigate through the narrow stretch,” said R. Sridharan, a resident of Raja Street.

Haphazard parking

V.S. Jayaraman from the T. Nagar Residents Welfare Association raised concerns over the indiscriminate parking prevalent now. “Since the multi-level parking is not yet complete, we have our doubts whether there will be strict enforcement of parking rules after the pedestrian plaza is formally inaugurated. With the stretch being so narrow, two-way traffic should not be allowed,” he said.

Vendors selling clothes, footwear, jewellery and toys, who had occupied large parts of the pavements till a few years back, have all been provided space in the Corporation complex.

However, a few small vendors, including flower-sellers, continue to ply their trade in some spots along the pedestrian plaza.

Traders on the fence

“We have been told that the project will be inaugurated soon but we are yet to think about where we will go. I have been selling flowers for many years here and I might have to search for a new space if we are asked to leave,” said Poongavanam, a flower-seller there.

A few traders in Pondy Bazaar said the plaza is a good move by the Chennai Corporation, but they should take steps to maintain it. “With the carriageway getting narrower, the shoppers and our staff will not have space to park. We hope some arrangement is being made. Besides, the road should be made one-way,” said a trader.

However, Chennai Corporation officials sought to allay fears. The Multi-Level Car Parking (MLCP) that can accommodate close to 250 cars and 550 bikes will be completed in the coming months, they claim.

Alternative provided

“Till then, we are providing alternative parking space on Sivagnanam Street. Once the MLCP, mainly for visitors’ vehicles, is completed, Sivagnanam Street will only be for staff parking. Only two-wheelers of shoppers will be allowed parking in Pondy Bazaar,” said an official. Apart from this, the 14 feeder roads connecting to Thyagaraya Road are being flattened and two wheelers can be parked on these stretches, he added.

“Once all these facilities are in place, the Chennai Corporation will enforce no parking on the pavements,” assured the official.

The Chennai Traffic Police said around 1,600 vehicles pass through Theyagaraya Road during peak hours.

“But the main problem has been haphazard parking. When we try to regulate it by towing away vehicles, traders oppose us,” a police officer said.

Reduced carriageway

Concerns over the reduced carriageway, from 7 meters to 3.5 meters on one side of the road, loom large. However, experts from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) said it would not be a problem.

“Earlier, cars were parked perpendicular to the flow of vehicles. Now, this has been realigned and made parallel, and will occupy less space. Besides, the stretch will be made one-way soon,” said Aswathy Dilip, senior programme manager, ITDP.

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Printable version | May 22, 2020 11:20:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/pedestrian-plaza-at-t-nagar-almost-ready-but-concerns-abound/article29386789.ece

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