Getting stuck in traffic snarls under Biswa Bangla Gate? Blame it on construction of a multi-layered underpass for vehicles and pedestrians underneath. Put up with the digging till mid-2023 and the underpass will open, allowing the smoothest-yet traffic flow at the busy junction.
Construction of the underpass started at the base of the Biswa Bangla Gate on Saturday, due to which the way towards Balaka Abasan has got cordoned off at the intersection.
According to a senior official of the New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA), the subway complex will be a two-tier structure, the first-of-its-kind in the city. The higher level will be for cars and two-wheelers approaching from the Salt Lake side straight towards the Tata Medical Center side and vice-versa. Trucks, buses and heavy vehicles will continue to travel on the surface of this road as they do now. But by dividing the volume of traffic, flow will be smoothened out.
A second tier will be built 8m below the first one. This will be for pedestrians. At present, pedestrians have subways to cross this junction from the Smart Street side to Rabindra Tirtha and again from the Fairfield by Marriott side to Mizoram House. The two remaining sides will be connected by this project.
So the lower level of this vehicular underpass will have pedestrian subways from the Smart Street side to the Fairfield by Marriott side and another one from Rabindra Tirtha to the Mizoram House side. The stretches will be equipped with escalators on all ends, the official said.
The construction of the underpass 4.2m below the road level needs heavy machinery and earth-moving equipment, due to which cordoning of a large area of the intersection was inevitable. Due to this, the road space on all four sides of the intersection on the Major Arterial Road (MAR) has reduced considerably, creating a bottleneck. “We have cordoned off a section of the road below Biswa Bangla Gate where the road will be dug to sink in the box tunnelling-machines,” he said.
The ongoing construction has taken a toll on traffic movement and snarls are being reported regularly during peak hours. The traffic wing of the Bidhannagar commissionerate said they had cordoned off two of the four laned MAR on the Salt Lake-bound flank as well as the one leading to the Unitech intersection from Salt Lake to facilitate construction of the subway complex.
Several residents The Telegraph spoke to said traffic snarls were taking place during office hours and at night when trucks are allowed to ply.
Bijoyaditya Majumder, a resident of DLF New Town Heights, who drives daily to Salt Lake and Sarat Bose Road for work said that in the mornings traffic crawls from in front of the Sister Nivedita University campus till the Fairfield by Marriott hotel opposite the Senior Citizens Park.
“It takes me more than half an hour to cross the stretch that used to take less than 10 minutes before the area was cordoned off,” said Majumder.
Another New Town resident said that those headed to the airport from Balaka Abasan or the ring road in Sector V are now having to take a U-turn from in front of the Pride Hotel simply because the intersection on the Balaka Abasan side is cordoned off.
“Earlier we could just cross over to the Major Arterial Road and head towards the airport. Now we are having to drive till the Pride Hotel intersection and wait for several signal cycles before we are allowed to take a U-turn and then head towards the airport. The construction work is badly affecting traffic,” said Shuvayu Dutta who stays close by.
A senior officer of Bidhannagar commissionerate said they had posted extra traffic policemen and civic volunteers at the spot. “We have also tweaked with the signal cycle a bit to ensure that vehicles can cross over as quickly as possible,” said the officer.
An NKDA official said that as work progresses, more areas and portions of the Major Arterial Road would need to be cordoned off. “We have however asked the agency to ensure that they do not after work at a certain portion after work there gets finished,” the official said.
The four-lane underpass complex is being built at a cost of Rs 68 crore and work is expected to complete by middle of next year.
Asked about the traffic congestion, NKDA chairman Debashis Sen said any new traffic diversion needed time for drivers to get used to. “As of now, many vehicles are asking policemen which way to take because of the construction. We have been careful to allow cordoning off of areas only where work is on,” said Sen.