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Guardrails pose danger in New Town

Lack of warning lights and worn-out reflective tapes make barriers hard to spot through fog

Snehal Sengupta | Published 29.12.23, 06:31 AM
A guardrail placed near gate no. 4 of Eco Park is hardly visible as branches of trees on the median divider block the view of motorists

A guardrail placed near gate no. 4 of Eco Park is hardly visible as branches of trees on the median divider block the view of motorists

Picture by Pradip Sanyal

A sizeable number of guardrails placed on New Town’s roads to act as speed inhibitors are proving to be a traffic hazard rather than a safety device as the season of low visibility descends.

Given that it is winter and fog sets in regularly in the still largely open township, guardrails become nearly impossible to spot for motorists as well as two-wheeler riders from a distance.


On Wednesday night, The Telegraph could barely spot a set of guardrails placed at the crossing near the St Xavier’s University campus, a five-minute drive from the Unitech crossing, as none of them had warning lights in place and their retro-reflective tapes had been rendered useless as they were covered in several layers of dust.

On Thursday afternoon, The Telegraph took a drive across all three Action Areas of New Town and saw guardrails placed at all major crossings along the Major Arterial
Road (MAR), including in front of the Westin Hotel intersection and Eco Park among others.

Guardrails were also placed on the road in front of the Aliah University campus that runs parallel to the Major Arterial Road and cuts across the township. Like the Major Arterial Road, this road too connects New Town with the airport on one end and Salt Lake on the other.

Given the large volume of traffic headed to Eco Park during the year-end festivities, the Bidhannagar Commissionerate’s traffic wing has been periodically diverting airport-bound as well as Salt Lake-bound traffic through this road. This was done on Christmas Eve as well as on the day of Christmas.

All of the guardrails that were spotted were devoid of any blinking warning lights. Nearly all of them were covered in layers of dust and several were rusted.

Most were difficult to spot from a few metres away, let alone from a distance, as the blue-and-white paint had faded and was peeling off in places.

The red boards on some had faded away or had turned brown. Others had retro-reflective tapes in place but they were covered in several layers of dust, grime and rust.

To make matters worse the guardrails easily blend into the backdrop of trees and shrubs planted along the median divider.

“Most of the guardrails in New Town are very difficult to spot, especially during winter. At night, the situation worsens as they suddenly loom up right in front, forcing us to either hit the brakes hard or swerve to avoid getting hit,” said Arkaprava Bhar, who lives in New Town and drives to his workplace in Park Street.

The Indian Road Congress (IRC), the apex body of highway engineers in the country, in its guidebook, specifies three types of guardrails — for pedestrians, median dividers and the moveable ones mounted on wheels. There are specifications laid down for each.

The moveable guardrails, engineers familiar with the IRC norms said, should be in black and yellow.

Bhargab Maitra, a professor of civil engineering at IIT Kharagpur who has been engaged by the state government multiple times to advice on traffic issues, said apart from the yellow and black paint scheme, the pipes of the guardrails should be wrapped in prismatic retro-reflective sheets so that the guardrail glows in the dark and can be spotted easily at night.

“In addition to this, to make guardrails more visible in low visibility and foggy conditions red warning lights should be fixed on them,” said Maitra.

A senior New Town Kolkata Development Authority official said that they were not only pasting new tapes but fixing warning lights on 600 guardrails.

A senior officer of the Bidhannagar Commissionerate’s traffic wing said that the guardrails were needed to slow down the speed of vehicles as well as create temporary police outposts.

Last updated on 29.12.23, 06:31 AM

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