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Airport high route hits twin-hump hurdle

The state public works department (PWD) is paving the path for another traffic turmoil in the city — citing shortage of funds, it intends to ground the flyover project on a two-km stretch from Keshtopur to Kaikhali, on VIP Road, and replace it with two humps at two congested intersections. The special, elevated humps will be located at Keshtopur and Baguiati.

But, fortunately for Calcutta, the PWD has hit a stonewall in the CMDA, which believes that humps solve no traffic problems, lead to a waste of roadspace and just end up making the city look even uglier.

The CMDA has, of course, cited “technical reasons” for its no-humps-please policy — it is building a road to the airport (the Salt Lake Bypass from Nicco Park to the Dum Dum Park crossing on VIP Road) — and has said the Keshtopur hump will “come in the way” of this link road.

Earlier, it had been decided that a lane from the flyover would come down to meet the Salt Lake Bypass. But with a hump in place, that roadmap is ruled out. In effect, if the flyover project is scrapped, the CMDA will have to go back to the drawing board. The construction of the Salt Lake Bypass from Nicco Park to Salt Lake’s AL Block has already been completed.

“We shall voice our concerns at a meeting with the PWD next week,” said a senior CMDA official. “Besides the fact that the humps will come in the way of the Salt Lake Bypass, this will also be a colossal waste of roadspace on one of the prime arterial stretches in the city. We hope the PWD does not push its plans to construct the humps.”

The PWD says it does not have Rs 170 crore needed for the flyover. The humps will come much cheaper, at Rs 27 crore, for both. “We are even finding it tough to gather funds for the humps and we will have to do it on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis with a private concern,” said PWD minister Amar Chowdhury.

CMDA officials said they had learnt their lesson from the Sealdah flyover —in reality, no more than a hump — which they had constructed in the Seventies.

It has only resulted in blocking off B.B. Ganguly Street abruptly, since a market had come up there.

The humps on VIP Road, Chowdhury said, will be slightly different. There will be two underpasses — ‘punctures’ in engineering parlance — through each hump. One will allow vehicles to pass through the busy intersections and the other will be for pedestrians, rickshaws and auto-rickshaws. Over the underpasses, VIP Road will be 4.5 metres high, a PWD engineer said.

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