Reduced road width, congestion leave commuters in Chennai high and dry

Metro Rail phase II project has spread to almost every part of the city since its length is about 116 km. Commuting has become tough after traffic diversions came into effect in and around Purasawalkam, Otteri, and Perambur, say residents

Updated - July 10, 2024 12:43 pm IST

Published - July 09, 2024 10:19 pm IST

Nightmare on the road: Commuters want more traffic policemen posted at the Purasawalkam High Road junction, where vehicles come in a haphazard way simultaneously and traffic violations occur often. There is no pedestrian crossing either.

Nightmare on the road: Commuters want more traffic policemen posted at the Purasawalkam High Road junction, where vehicles come in a haphazard way simultaneously and traffic violations occur often. There is no pedestrian crossing either. | Photo Credit: M. Srinath

M. Narayanan, a working professional, who often travels from Perambur to Purasawalkam, skips the bus and takes a share autorickshaw nowadays. “Earlier, it would take me about 15 minutes to reach Purasawalkam from Perambur, but now it takes half-an-hour to 40 minutes to travel to Millers Road at peak hours. If I travel by bus, the ride will be even longer, and hence I go by the share autorickshaw now,” he says.

Like him, commuters, businessmen, and residents have been left high and dry because of numerous problems that have cropped up owing to the Metro Rail project in areas in and around Purasawalkam, Otteri, and Perambur.

The Metro Rail phase II project has now spread to almost every part of the city since its length is about 116 km across three corridors: Madhavaram-SIPCOT (corridor 3), Light House-Poonamallee (corridor 4), and Madhavaram-Sholinganallur (corridor 5).

Underground network

Traffic diversions came into effect in and around Purasawalkam, Otteri and Perambur for the work on the underground stations to be taken up. These areas will have an underground Metro Rail network under corridor 3. Be it walking to a bus station, waiting for a bus or autorickshaw, or the travel time, every part of commuting has gotten tough after the work began and the diversions came into effect, say commuters.

Many of the problems that emerged at Mylapore and Nungambakkam from the Metro Rail work plague Purasawalkam and Otteri too. The space on some of the roads has shrunk significantly and the narrow roads take in heavy traffic. Commuters find it frustrating to take detours and grapple with traffic congestion at peak hours.

“The space dedicated to the footpath is not only limited, but it is often not a straight path and irregular; the road surface is uneven, and anyone can trip. More traffic policemen are required at the Millers Road-Brick Kiln Road-Purasawalkam High Road junction. Vehicles come in a haphazard way simultaneously and traffic violations occur at this junction often. There is no pedestrian crossing either,” Mr. Narayanan says.

‘Pitiable shape’

On a stretch of Strahans Road, the road space has been eaten up by the Metro Rail construction site, and only a tiny path is available for commuters to walk and vehicles to ply.

“The road is in a pitiable shape, and I have witnessed senior citizens and children trip and fall. The worst part is that in case of emergency, ambulances can’t reach on time. Whether they come from Perambur or Pulianthope, reaching Strahans Road is an arduous task for ambulances, and I have seen this happen in recent times,” says K.S. Rohit, a resident of Otteri.

Purasawalkam is a major shopping hub. Many say that their shops have lost the visibility to attract new customers as barricades have been put up everywhere. Ganapathy, who runs a pharmacy on Strahans Road, says, “When people can barely walk through the stretch, how can I expect new clients. Old customers who live close by alone stop over.”

Dheen Mohammed, who works at a footwear store at Purasawalkam, says the road space has decreased. As there is no parking space, the footfall at the store has dwindled since the construction started. “The business has dropped by more than half, and I’m sure this will continue for the next few years,” he says.

K.P. Subramanian, retired professor of urban engineering at Anna University, says the Metro Rail project is bound to take a few years for completion. Hence, Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL), along with the Greater Chennai Traffic Police, must identify better alternative routes before announcing traffic diversions. The CMRL must ensure that the contractors relay the roads damaged during the work.

He says the commuters across the city are finding it difficult to travel because multiple departments are simultaneously taking up their work, be it the Greater Chennai Corporation, the CMRL, or Metro Water. “Lack of effective coordination among these agencies adds to the commuters’ problems daily. They should stagger their work and draw up a schedule to minimise the inconvenience caused by traffic snarls and diversions.”

‘Wide publicity needed

Furthermore, information on the alternative routes must be widely publicised and well-designed signboards should be installed so that commuters are able to navigate through an area without difficulty, he says.

“Many of the issues can be handled better if they hold consultations with residents’ welfare associations before beginning the work,” he adds.

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