For the rest of the year, it’s the passage to the city’s business hub. For these few days, it’s the gateway to some of the grandest pujas in town. With no way out emerging from the traffic mess at Esplanade, the city police on Friday said it would experiment with a few “ad-hoc measures” to ease the situation there.
In addition, they will continue with a selective opening-up of the north-to-south lane on this busy arterial road.
Monday evening, with work beginning on the Park Street flyover, the police had abruptly blocked the north-to-south traffic on Chowringhee. Instead, they directed vehicles from Chittaranjan Avenue and S.N. Banerjee Road on to New Road, behind Maidan Market, and then further south, via either Mayo Road or Dufferin Road. However, on Wednesday, unable to deal with the chaotic traffic situation, the police selectively opened up the north-south corridor to cars and taxis. But it continued to be off-limits for buses, minibuses and other large vehicles.
“This ad hoc arrangement will have to continue till the bypass is built,” said deputy commissioner (traffic) M.K. Singh.
It had initially been decided that work on the flyover would start only after the temporary road was constructed. But with the deadlines slipping away and a prime Japanese financier threatening to pull out unless work started soon, the government decided not to wait any longer.
“We were told that bypass or no bypass, work would have to start and that we would have to deal with the traffic situation,” said city police chief Sujoy Chakraborty. “For starters, we have stopped cars coming from the south turning into Kyd Street.”
Some traffic planners have suggested the following measures to ease traffic pressure in the Chowringhee area:
4Divide the traffic: Let cars heading south from Chittaranjan Avenue take Chowringhee, while those coming in from S.N. Banerjee Road, but also headed south, be diverted to New Road
4South divert: Divert cars from the south onto Mayo Road from the Park Street crossing. They can take the Maidan route to proceed north. Buses and other heavy vehicles should take Chowringhee Road. This will allow a constant north-to-south flow of traffic on this thoroughfare
4Left turn: Cars coming down S.N. Banerjee Road, but headed south, should be made to turn into Free School Street and then proceed southwards
A.K. Pal, vice-chairman of Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners, which is monitoring the flyover project, said for any plan to succeed, the police will have to ensure that there is no parking anywhere near important crossings. “Goods vehicles parked on either side of a road can foil the best of traffic plans,” said Pal.