The Telegraph
Tuesday , February 12 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Over, around & now under
Rajmahal flyover: Back to square one

Bhubaneswar, Feb. 11: First, it was a flyover and an underpass. Then, a flyover and a roundabout. Soon after, the plan was to get rid of the roundabout and make the flyover one-way.

Guess what it is now? Back to the flyover and underpass!

The public works department (PWD) has finally made up its mind. It is now going to take measures to make the underpass under Rajmahal Flyover functional. The underpass will be made following the original plan with a primary estimate of around Rs 12 crore.

Sources said engineers of Division II of the PWD had already started work in chalking out the details of the execution plan. Before the inauguration of the flyover on October 17 last year, the underpass was sealed and remained under the two central pillars of the flyover. PWD engineers blamed lack of funds for stopping the execution of the underpass plan.

Chief engineer (roads) Bijan Kumar Behera told The Telegraph: “There was an underpass in the original plan. We are going to build it now. Once it is functional, traffic problems in the area will cease for the next two decades. We have asked for a detailed estimate and it will be available next month.”

PWD executive engineer (division II) Ranjit Sahu said the chief engineer had asked for a report on the underpass and a junior engineer had been given the responsibility to prepare it. “We will send the estimate to the chief engineer’s office by the last week of this month.”

After sealing the underpass, the civic authorities have realised that while less than 30 per cent of vehicles take the bridge route, more than 70 per cent pass under the bridge. This proved that the underpass was needed to unravel the traffic mess even after building the flyover.

In December last year, city traffic cops had proposed that the roundabout under the bridge be closed to ease the traffic mess. By closing the roundabout, they proposed that only one-way traffic be allowed on the Rajmahal flyover, which was opposed by citizens and urban management experts.

The Telegraph had carried a report — Square peg in round hole — in its December 27 edition describing the confusion of the various agencies in executing the flyover project and the resultant traffic mess this confusion had created.

Urban management expert Piyush Ranjan Rout said: “The PWD authorities realised their mistake late. It will now cost them extra money, as they will create traffic problems once again when work starts on the underpass. The earlier square was the best alternative. A better idea to manage traffic would have been to widen the roads. After spending so much money, and wasting so much effort, they want to experiment again!”

The chief engineer (roads), however, explained that during the underpass work, traffic would not be affected at all. Commuters, he claimed, would have no trouble at all in negotiating the area.

The 550-metre long flyover was originally supposed to go from AG Square to Kalpana Square. But again, because of lack of funds, the length was shortened. It started from Ashok Nagar (near the railway bridge), from the Kalpana Square end, and went up to Unit I Market. The twin bridge structure has a 40-feet wide bridge on either side. Though work started in 2009, it finally ended last year.