You are headed for the airport from your Gariahat residence. You have a comfortable 40-minute cushion for check-in time as you hit the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass. But in a cruel case of being so near and yet so far, you end up missing the flight by a whisker.
If the Bypass is bad now, there is little consolation ahead: things will only get worse, warn traffic planners. The reason is simple — the growing space jam along the Bypass will keep adding to the traffic snarls on it.
The average speed of traffic has slowed down to a crawl of around 30 kph — half the ideal mark of 60 kph — on the 15-km stretch. A survey by the transport department found around 3,200 cars, buses and two-wheelers passing through the Rashbehari connector to the Bypass between 9 am and 10 am on an average working day.
According to projections, this figure will jump in the coming months, with the star hotels (Hyatt Regency and ITC Sonar Bangla) getting busy, hospitals (led by Apollo Gleneagles) opening doors, schools (including La Martiniere, Shri Shikshayatan and St Xavier’s) lining up campuses, and several commercial properties eyeing the Bypass and VIP Road.
There are three solutions in sight to combat the car count and ease bottlenecks. On the drawing board is a two-lane, right-turning flyover to take vehicles into the heart of Salt Lake from the Bypass-Nicco Park crossing. The Rs 14-crore project will take airport-bound traffic from the Bypass to the Salt Lake Bypass (now under construction), and from there, directly to VIP Road (near Keshtopur).
A 3.8-km stretch of the Bypass, that cuts across the township from Nicco Park has already been completed and the rest will be constructed at a cost of Rs 32 crore by the CMDA. There is also a provision for widening the Bypass into an eight-lane thoroughfare, in addition to the 7.2 metres allocated for a service road.
“Once things start coming up on the Bypass, traffic will increase rapidly,” warns T. Mitra, director (planning), CMDA. “We must re-examine the scenario once the ITC Sonar Bangla is in full swing,” adds chief traffic and transportation engineer B.K. Sadhu. The West Bengal Police have suggested that Parama Island, off Science City, be trimmed from its present 180-metre diameter to allow freer flow of traffic.
Officials say the Bypass panic button has been pushed following a visit by a Japanese delegation that urged chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to take urgent steps to improve and speed up city traffic.