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Signal clue to Salt Lake First Avenue traffic conundrum

Speeding vehicles had become a risk for aged pedestrians walking along the lane

Brinda Sarkar | Published 05.08.22, 09:16 AM
A queue of vehicles in wait at the exit from Salt Lake. (Right) The traffic light remains green for long allowing quick entry into Salt Lake. (Sudeshna Banerjee)

A queue of vehicles in wait at the exit from Salt Lake. (Right) The traffic light remains green for long allowing quick entry into Salt Lake. (Sudeshna Banerjee)

The traffic situation at the PNB Island has improved somewhat after police looked into residents’ grievances but the root of the problem — regulation of the traffic signal at the exit from Sector I to the EM Bypass — remains unsolved.

Residents of BA Block were up in arms a few weeks ago when rush hour traffic jams between PNB Island and the exit gate of Salt Lake led to autorickshaws taking detours through a lane parallel to the main road through their block.

“The speeding vehicles had become a risk for aged pedestrians walking along the lane. On the day of Rath Yatra, children couldn’t even take their miniature chariots out of their houses for fear of the constant flow of autos,” said president of the BA Block association, Arunava Das.

On Second Avenue, DA Block residents have long been suffering the same way. “Autos and other vehicles use our lane like a thoroughfare whenever the stretch from CA Island to the mouth of the Bypass is choked. They clog the lane and create a nuisance for residents,” says president of DA Block’s association Subhasish Ray.

“There have been times when we have been unable to leave home because of bumper-to-bumper traffic outside our gates. My wife’s students are forced to get off their cars at CA Island and walk all the way to our home as otherwise they’ll never reach on time.”

Police recently intervened around PNB Island and started prosecuting errant auto drivers who were using the BA Block lane as a bypass. “After a few drivers were fined, the others fell in line and stuck to the main road,” said an officer of Bidhannagar police commissionerate’s traffic department. “We have also asked the block association to put up flexes prohibiting autos from entering the lane. We do not have the manpower to post personnel at the juncture round the clock but officers on patrol duty have been asked to keep an eye out for errant autos there.”

Bigger problems

While BA Block residents are grateful for the police action, the root of the matter — that even the police concede to — is yet to be addressed.

“The congestion at the island is created by the traffic signal on the Bypass, that allows outbound traffic a very short window to leave Salt Lake, while allowing a much larger window for inbound traffic,” explained the officer. “The signal there — operated by Kolkata police (KP) — is on automatic timer and their priority is naturally to keep the Bypass congestion-free. If things get beyond control on the Salt Lake side, we do inform CP and they manually tweak the signal timings but that happens only temporarily.”

At about 12.30pm on July 21, The Telegraph Salt Lake observed that the signal allowing outbound traffic through the First Avenue turned green after every minute and a half, causing a queue of vehicles, but it stayed green for only 36 seconds, which during peak hours is often too little time for the queue to clear. On the other flank of the road, inbound traffic got a minute and 15 seconds of green light after every 38 seconds. No wonder the inbound flank is usually free of congestion most of the day while the other flank is clogged.

On behalf of BA Block, Das has emailed the traffic department of KP, although he has not received a reply. “The situation in our lanes is much improved but the traffic will never be clear till a larger volume of outbound traffic is allowed to leave Salt Lake at the signal. To keep vehicles moving, more intelligent management of traffic lights is the need of the hour. The signal can be operated manually,” he said.

Additional reporting by Sudeshna Banerjee

Last updated on 05.08.22, 09:16 AM
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