The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Flurry over faulty flyovers

An estimated Rs 146 crore must be spent to set right the flaws of the three showpiece flyovers, built at a combined cost of around Rs 246 crore.

With the Gariahat, AJC Bose Road and Park Street flyovers in full flow, the design deficiencies have come to the fore, in the form of car crawls off the high roads.

The government and the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) are now paying heed to the crying need for some major course correction, with arms and ramps, to utilise the new bridges better .

'We realise now that the new flyovers are not able to address the problems for which they have been built,' admitted transport minister Subhas Chakraborty.

'If we do not put corrective measures in place, the chaos on the roads below and near the bridges will be unmanageable,' he added.

Last week, the minister held a meeting with the Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC), that oversees the flyovers, where the design dilemma was discussed for the first time.

Sources said the government asked why the deficiencies had not been pointed out to the Japanese before construction began. HRBC officials are believed to have taken the position that its suggestions for wider bridges with arms were overruled.

According to HRBC officials, the plan that was implemented involved the construction of high roads to just give a few busy intersections the miss, be it Gariahat or Minto Park or Park Street. There was no broader vision about additional arms or ramps.

The Park Street flyover, inaugurated last month, is a classic case of myopic planning. According to transport engineers, most vehicles from the south headed for BBD Bag are avoiding the flyover and taking Mayo Road instead. Going up the flyover and hitting the clogged Dorina crossing is a poor option. This has been highlighted in a 15-day survey on the flyover.

'If BBD Bag-bound vehicles cannot be allowed to take Mayo Road from the flyover, the purpose of constructing the high road ' to increase vehicular speed and ease traffic congestion in the area ' is defeated,' observed transport minister Chakraborty.

'So, we have decided to add one arm from the Park Street flyover to Mayo Road on a priority basis,' he confirmed.

Sadhan Banerjee, vice-chairman of HRBC, said Rs 12 crore would be needed for this arm, an investment that the body could handle.

He added that an estimated Rs 34 crore would be required to attach two arms to the AJC Bose Road flyover (Sarat Bose Road on one side, Shakespeare Sarani on the other).

One arm will be added to the AJC Bose Road flyover to benefit motorists taking APC Road from the flyover. HRBC officials said a number of motorists were reluctant to take the AJC Bose Road flyover as it has no link with APC Road, that leads to the busy Mullickbazar-Moulali-Sealdah belt.

'We have realised the need to add ramps to the Park Street and AJC Bose Road flyovers after understanding the ground realities. We expect the traffic congestion at the intersection of Park Street and AJC Bose Road to be substantially reduced after the new arms are added. We will provide funds for the additional constructions,' said Banerjee.

Mayor Subrata Mukherjee has swung into the bridge bail-out act. Flush with funds, the civic body has pledged around Rs 100 crore for the construction of two flyovers at the Dorina crossing and Ballygunge Phari.

'We have taken up the twin projects of building an extension of the Park Street flyover (towards CR Avenue) and an extension of the Gariahat flyover (at Ballygunge Phari),' said Mukherjee.

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