The Telegraph
Wednesday , August 8 , 2012
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Traffic-stopper alarm for Writers’ II
Arteries set for car choke

A swanky chief minister’s office may provide Mamata Banerjee a splendid view of the Laldighi in Dalhousie from the top but down on the road, it might be impossible for a motorist to get though the traffic mess.

Urban traffic planners have already pressed the panic button over how, if the proposed five-storeyed Writers’ II comes up opposite GPO — provided it gets a green signal from the heritage commission — office-goers would struggle to crawl down Netaji Subhas Road, a key artery in the central business district.

“Every day it is a challenge managing traffic flow on the four arteries around Laldighi because lakhs pour into the zone. The vehicle density here is the highest during peak hours,” said a senior officer of Calcutta traffic police.

According to a survey by the transport department carried out two years ago in the BBD Bag area, the traffic volume on NS Road has crossed the 70 per cent limit, which means any further vehicular load will significantly reduce vehicular speed (see chart).

Citing NS Road as a case in point, officers claim this road has the highest traffic load since five key roads — Hare Street, Koilaghat Street, Fairlie Place, Clive Ghat Street and Canning Street — connect to this artery. “Cars apart, all minibuses headed for the central stand in Dalhousie take the NS Road to then turn left,” said the officer.

Traffic management is the second major problem confronting the plan to construct another secretariat opposite Writers’. Metro had reported on July 28 (Writers’ II spells heritage doom) how the construction would violate the harmony of the heritage zone steeped in history.

Heritage value and aesthetics apart, urban planners and experts in traffic management too have given the proposal a thumbs down. According to the plan, the five-storeyed building — with a collective volume of over one lakh square feet carpet area — will flaunt an underground parking facility for 100-150 cars.

A senior traffic department official said managing traffic would be nearly impossible once cars keep rolling in and out of the office building. “For any car entering the building, it has to take a right on NS Road. Simple traffic engineering rules say any such movement is bound to impede the flow of vehicles from the opposite end,” he said.

Traffic police bosses claim even if cars are made to stop till traffic from the opposite end is drained out and then allowed a right turn into Writers’ II, the resultant tail-up would hit movement on all arteries around Laldighi.

“NS Road is the only artery in the CBD that enjoys both-way traffic movement down its two flanks. Since the flow of vehicles towards RBI (northbound) is more, the road has been divided in such a way that the space for the AIR-bound (south) vehicles is less,” said an officer. “So, it would be difficult to allow cars to wait on one of the north flanks to take a right into the new building.”

One option would be to direct all south-bound vehicles through BBD Bag (North), the road in front of the main gate of Writers’. But experts said it would put additional pressure on BBD Bag East, the road in front of Currency Building, which is one of the heaviest in terms of vehicular density.

“Whatever be the solution, there is little doubt that traffic movement in the central business district will hit a logjam if the new secretariat comes up here,” said an officer.