Residents of Chennai face hardship as civic works drag on

Narrow stretches and numerous diversions give motorists and pedestrians a hard time on both arterial and interior roads. Many criticise the slow progress of the Metro Rail work, which has been under way for more than six months; traffic snarls are commonplace, and vehicles move at a snail’s pace during peak and non-peak hours on key stretches across the city

October 12, 2022 01:04 am | Updated 01:04 am IST - CHENNAI

The residents of Saligramam, Vadapalani, Virugambakkam, Valasaravakkam and Alwarthirunagar are the worst affected by the Metro Rail work.

The residents of Saligramam, Vadapalani, Virugambakkam, Valasaravakkam and Alwarthirunagar are the worst affected by the Metro Rail work. | Photo Credit: R. RAGU

Motorists and pedestrians are facing difficulties and delays on roads due to the narrowing of the carriageway and diversions as a result of civic works, including Metro Rail and storm-water drain construction, being undertaken at many places. This has led to traffic snarls on arterial roads, and vehicles moving at a snail’s pace during peak and non-peak hours.

Currently, Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL), the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC), the Highways Department, the Metrowater and the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) are carrying out civic works in nearly 500 places.

Suddenly, a new diversion was introduced last week at Greenway’s Road junction to facilitate CMRL work on R.K. Mutt Road, and adjacent to Corporate Grounds. Many motorists approaching from Adyar were forced to take a circuitous route to reach their destination. People who use Luz Church Road also face a diversion that makes them take the long way around.

Anand Venkat, a motorist from Thiruvanmiyur, said, “It takes thirty minutes to cross Thiu Vi Ka Bridge to reach Greenway’s Road-Dr. DGS Dinakaran Salai. It is a nightmare to traverse the already-narrow stretch.”

The carriageway on a stretch of Royapettah High Road has shrunk. The four-way junction is so chaotic, and the movement of motorists is very disorganised. The plight of the pedestrians is very apparent, and one side of the road has huge machinery blocking the way.

S. Saroja, executive director of the Citizen Consumer Action Group, said, “The civic work is being done with complete disregard for the pedestrians. The buses have been diverted without any information. There is no place for pedestrians to move about. Prior information on such changes and diversions is only shared if it is an arterial road. The roads have not been relaid after the work has been completed. The authorities must take up the work in a structured way instead of doing it all in one go.”

Traffic chaos

The Metro Rail work is severely inconveniencing motorists, particularly office-goers, on several key roads in south Chennai. Perumbakkam Main Road, which links Medavakkam and Sholinganallur and has several colleges, hospitals and IT companies on it, witnesses continuous traffic chaos. The already crowded two-lane road has become narrower, leading to severe traffic jams.

Vidyasagar, a resident of Pallikaranai, who regularly uses Perumbakkam Main Road, criticised the slow progress of the Metro Rail work, which had been going on for more than six months. He said motorists were badly hit by the slow pace of work. The Metro Rail work has also affected traffic in the interior areas of Medavakkam, including Sowmya Nagar and Mambakkam Main Road, because heavy vehicles and buses from Sholinganallur are being diverted through them to reach the Medavakkam junction. The social activist feared that major traffic bottlenecks were likely in the coming years when the Metro Rail construction eventually begins near the Medavakkam junction.

Medavakkam Main Road, another important arterial road that links the residential localities of Kovilambakkam, Medavakkam, Nanmangalam, Keelkatallai, Moovarasampet and Vanuvampet with the city, is a mess due to Metro Rail construction work. Thousands of vehicles using Medavakkam Main Road have been put to hardship because of poor road conditions.

With a major portion of the carriageway barricaded for Metro Rail work, people have been forced to navigate the unmotorable side of the road, hindered by potholes, old electricity poles and encroachments. The residents of Saligramam, Vadapalani, Virugambakkam, Valasaravakkam and Alwarthirunagar are the worst affected by the Metro Rail work. Arcot Road, the lifeline for thousands of motorists, being closed for vehicles from Kodambakkam does not mean a smooth ride for ones heading to Porur because of one-way traffic violations, absence of police personnel to regulate the stretch and, above all, poor road condition.

S. Rangarajan, a resident of Balaji Nagar in Virugambakkam, said except for buses and heavy vehicles coming from Kodambakkam, all other vehicles invariably violate the one-way traffic rule on Arcot Road, leading to congesting an already narrow carriageway. He also rued that a portion of the stretch was filled with potholes and flooded by sewage.

According to CMRL officials, the diversions were implemented after months of careful planning and trials. “We request the public to understand that we have tried to minimise the inconveniences to the best of our abilities. We will complete the work in a few years, after which it will greatly help commuters,” an official said.

(with inputs from Sunitha Sekar)

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