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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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A short-cut to traffic snarl

Commuters love to take shortcuts to their destination and welcome building of roads and flyovers that cut short their commuting time. So when Duke Road was constructed in 1995 joining Foreshore Road to GT Road near Bataitala, people of central and north Howrah were overjoyed as the road provided them a shortcut to Salimar Station. However, today, people wanting to catch a train from Salimar station or visit the Indian Botanic Garden or other parts of south Howrah avoid taking Duke Road as they invariably get stuck in a jam for the better part of an hour.

The snarl on Duke Road is mainly created by trucks and trailers that emerge from the Salimar goods yard on the south and head to a weigh-bridge on the north of the road.

Manoj Saraf, a resident of Shibpur made the mistake of taking Duke Road to catch a Digha-bound train from Salimar Station. “I was going to Digha along with my family members. When we reached Foreshore Road-Jagat Banerjee Ghat Road crossing, there was still 45 minutes left in our hands to catch the train. We would have reached Salimar Station in five minutes from that point. But barely 200 yards before Salimar Station, our car was stopped as one truck after another crossed the road to get to the weighbridge. There was no traffic guard to stop them to allow cars to pass. Finally, when 30 minutes went by, we got out of our car and literally started running for the station carrying our luggage,” said Jaiswal.

Hundreds of trucks and trailers, after loading goods in the Salimar yard, visit Jayguru weigh-bridge that is located right across before heading for their destinations. “Huge trucks and trailers cross Duke Road to reach the weigh-bridge located on the other side while vehicles from both Foreshore Road and Andul Road are kept waiting. This sometimes goes on for an hour or more,” said a resident of Bataitala. On an average, 1000 trucks and trailers leave Salimar goods yard every day.

Ironically, the South-Eastern Railway constructed Duke Road so that trucks and trailers could reach the goods yard avoiding G.T. Road. “The road was constructed to ensure smooth traffic movement on G.T. Road. If hundreds of trucks and trailers were allowed to take G.T. Road, movement of public vehicles would have been hampered and there would have been a constant traffic jam,” said an officer of South-Eastern railway. With the number of trains increasing in Salimar station, the South-Eastern Railway authorities decided to renovate the road in 2001 for passengers to reach the station quickly. But the purpose was entirely lost.

No traffic guard is ever found on Duke Road though there is a traffic guard office located nearby. “Traffic guards visit the road in the evening only to extort money from the truck drivers,” said a local resident. An employee of the weigh-bridge is seen on the road signalling the trucks and trailers.

Not just that, hundreds of heavy vehicles are parked on both sides of Duke road, encroaching nearly one-third of it. The drivers of these vehicles often block the road for several minutes while trying to park them on the road.