People travelling from Mysuru to Bengaluru reach the city now faster than before. But the time they save on the expressway is lost as they move forward from Kumbalgod, where the expressway comes down to the grade level. Local residents and business owners say between 4 and 9 p.m. on weekends, there is massive traffic congestion.
The Hindu visited Kumbalgod over the weekend for a reality check. Although traffic was moving at a good pace until 4.30 p.m., by 5 p.m., traffic began building up to over a kilometre. By 7 p.m., it stretched to nearly 2 km along the expressway itself. Somashekhar, a regular commuter, said, “It is a task to move forward from this stretch during weekends and holidays. Especially if there are accidents, we get stuck for one or two hours.”
Locals say the main problem near the exit is reduced speed. The speed at which the motorists drive on the expressway drops by more than half when they come down to the grade level. Besides, the expressway traffic converges with the Mysuru Road traffic at a narrow point, leading to congestion. Commuters said had the Challaghatta metro station been built a few hundred metres away, it could have helped the situation.
A ray of hope, however, is the upcoming service road which is expected help motorists, especially those who take the NICE Road on the left side.
Bunnaz Banu, who works in a factory nearby and has to cross the busy road before the expressway every day, said there were instances when she had waited around 20 minutes to cross the road. There is no designated pedestrian crossing zones, and the police have to stop the traffic and let people cross the road every few minutes.
A police officer at the Kumbalgod station said a skywalk was needed. “We have to stop traffic every 10 minutes to people cross, which adds to the traffic snarls. It is difficult to handle both traffic and pedestrians on weekends between 4 and 8 p.m. as all of them are in a hurry and do not follow rules.”
Pedestrians also pointed out that removal of speed breakers on Mysuru Road during the construction of the expressway had resulted in accidents. When The Hindu was at the spot, a speeding car caused an autorickshaw to topple, injuring four people who were inside.
A senior official in Bengaluru Traffic Police (BTP) said traffic problems might only increase on Mysuru Road when the expressway is fully functional. The official also hinted at making Mysuru Road (from where the jurisdiction of BTP starts), signal free to ease traffic flow.