Monday, March 30, 2009

Peddar Road repairs cause traffic jam at Nepean Sea Road

March 29th 2009. Just another date. Just another day to show-case planning, India style.

Peddar Road, the main arterial road, going from Haji Ali at its Northern End till Hughes Road / Chowpatty at its southern end, is undergoing major repairs. Actually the sewers running underneath the road are undergoing major repairs. To facilitate that, the road is open only to one way traffic running from Haji Ali to Chowpatty.

To compensate for the disruption and to supposedly facilitate traffic movement in the opposite direction, Walkeshwar road has been made "one-way" from Chowpatty till Teen Batti, and also Ridge road has been made one way from Teen Batti till Kemp's Corner via Hanging Garden.

Now this plan for alternate traffic movement ignores 2 very basic things.

1. The alternate route chosen is very circuitous and long. It involves ascending up the hill via Walkeshwar Road, then going along Ridge Road, passing Hanging Garden, before finally descending to Kemps Corner - Peddar Road junction, only to take left for Breach Candy, since entry to Peddar Road is closed from there.

Motorists would rather take a left at Chowpatty towards RTI / Prempuri Ashram and then take a left for Breach Candy on reaching Peddar Road flyover, thus saving a lot of time.

2. Most of the people who live at Nepean Sea Road, Walkeshwar, Malabar Hill area have their work places in South Mumbai. I would guestimate it to be 75 to 80 %. Only a few 25% such as yours truly, actually travel north to earn their Bread n Butter (& Jam n Honey).

There are 3 exits out of Nepean Sea Road / Walkeshwar:

A) South to chowpatty via teen batti (Now closed for south bound traffic)
B) To Kemp's Corner via Hanging Garden and thence to Peddar Road, Nana Chowk, or Hughes Road.
C) To Warden Road and Breach Candy via Priyadarshini Park on Nepean Sea Road.

By closing down an exit route used by three fourth's of the motorists, a nightmarish situation has developed. All south bound traffic moving from Nepean Sea Road, Walkeshwar to Nariman Point, Churchgate, Masjid/Pydhunie, Opera House etc has been diverted to the other 2 exit points. Traffic is moving slower than a snail. It took me on hour to travel 1 1/2 Kms from my house to Kemp's Corner, only to be greeted by empty roads ahead. Once I reached Kemp's Corner, the streets were so empty, I thought there was a bandh in the city! My daughter had a nightmarish time returning from school and was sapped of all her energy.

This inspite of there being adequate traffic policemen ("Pandu's" / "Mama's" and "RTO's") manning the main diversion points. This isn't just a case of traffic mismanagement, its a case of gross mis-planning!

I'm sure that with a little common sense, study of traffic movement data and patterns we can do a much better job. Or is it just asking for too much?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bandra Worli Sea Link – a critique

Bandra Worli Sea Link (BWSL) mirrors India. Its stands for our aspirations, to be world class and to enjoy the best of amenities and infrastructure. To take up challenges and to be counted amongst the best.

The BWSL is a 6 km project, starting at the Mahim Interchange and going all the way upto Worli Sea Face. It consists of 2 cable stayed spans, the one at Bandra end, a massive single tower supported span of approx 600 mtrs and the one at the Worli end a span of approx 350 mtrs held by two smaller towers. State of the art technology is being used in the construction of this bridge and even the giant Asian Hercules crane was called up to serve duty. After completion, it will be amongst the bigger cable stayed bridges in Asia.

It is slated to cut travel time between Bandra and Worli from present day 40 minutes, to about 10 minutes and also save us motorist a lot of fuel.

It also brings out our shortcoming as a nation.

China constructed a much bigger cable stayed bridge, the Sutong bridge, over the Yangste river. The total length of this bridge is over 8 kms., its main cable stayed spans over 1 km, and there are also 5-6 other smaller side spans. Construction started in June 2003 and the bridge was opened for public use in May2008 and was officially inaugurated later in June 2008.

BWSL construction is over 8 years old and counting, why? – The plans and designs were changed a lot of times. The link was pushed further away into open sea by half a kilometer (Environment issues I guess) and the landing moved from Worli village to Worli seaface (villagers’ protests?), surely adding a km to its length. This has resulted in delays and cost escalation from Rs. 400 crores to Rs. 1,600 crores and counting. Thus, the project has been embroiled in various issues such as logistical, environmental clearance and public interest litigation leading to its delay and subsequent cost escalation.

BWSL as seen from the existing road, is an 8 lane twin carriageway, but one can see only one 4 lane carriageway landing at Worli sea face. The second one, I guess, is a continuation bridge that will go upto Haji Ali and may apparently not be used till Worli - Haji Ali Sea Link is completed (say 10-15 years at minimum!)

BWSL is just one part of the larger Western Island Freeway connecting Bandra to Nariman Point and is being planned since the ‘60’s!

A fly-over came up at present day Priyadarshini Park (over nothing) since the original freeway was to land at present day Priyadarshini Park and pass under the fly-over. This happed at least 30 years ago!! I don’t remember seeing a flat road where the fly-over is now, but my mother assures me it was flat before the “fly-over” (over what??) came up at PDP.

Lack of planning, lack of clarity of thought and lack of political will has resulted in mine, yours and a lot of other tax payers hard earned money going down the drain.

So guys, pull up your socks and tell those politicos to their backsides moving. We just happen to be in that 2 month window which appears every five years when they actually listen to us.