Thursday, December 22, 2011

Coimbatore's quest for traffic improvement, road connectivity

Of the major projects the Coimbatore Corporation readied for submission for fund under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, the transport project is one.

Under the head ‘Traffic and transportation – inclusive of roads, bus rapid transit system and flyovers', the Corporation sought Rs. 637 crore after preparing a detailed project report (DPR). The DPR says the objective is to identify transportation deficiencies and come up with a comprehensive mobility plan for the city of Coimbatore. This was in November 2007.

The Corporation set up four committees - the first for identification of problems in traffic network and bottlenecks for their intermodal integration and road connectivity aspects; the second for short-term measures for traffic improvements; the third for medium- and long- term measures for traffic improvements; and, the fourth for traffic management measures. The report the committees submitted identified the following as the city's problems: phenomenal growth in vehicles, lack of segregation of traffic, inadequate road network, congestion at railway crossings, lack of adequate link roads, absence of organised parking facilities, lack of sufficient signalised junctions, medians, pedestrian walkways and lack of an efficient transit system.

As part of the long-term improvements, a mass transit system was listed as priority one.

The report said Coimbatore would do well to have a bus rapid transit system (BRTS) because it suited the ‘Passenger Per Hour Per Direction' estimate, which was 6,000.

Under Phase I of the BRTS project, the committees suggested taking up works on the Avanashi Road – Dr. Nanjappa Road – Mettupalayam Road stretch and under Phase II, the Trichy Road, Sathy Road, Thadagam Road and Sanganur Canal.

The Corporation took up the committees' report and said that it would be able to implement the project with 50 per cent financial assistance from the Central Government and 20 per cent contribution from the State. It promised to chip in with the remaining 30 per cent.

JNNURM projects

This report, according to sources, is with the State Government and has not been forwarded to the Central Government because the Corporation has not been able to complete the JNNURM projects at hand such as the solid waste management, underground drainage, storm water drain, etc.

They also say that even if the report is forwarded to the Central Government, it may not fund the project because the Corporation has not taken necessary administrative reforms and acted on its promises, like for instance, collecting user charges.

This is only one half of the story, though. Even without the BRTS, the Corporation could have taken several measures to ease traffic congestion in the city, sources say.

The civic body failed to implement even short-term improvement measures such as bringing in bicycle lanes, providing pedestrian facilities, regulating street hawking, identifying hawking zones and improving junctions.

The Corporation, they say, has not been successful in bringing in many link roads, constructing flyovers, road overbridges, pedestrian underpasses, etc., as suggested in the committees' report.

If the Corporation wants to ease traffic congestion and introduce mass transport in the city, it must start from scratch because the report prepared in 2007 will not reflect 2011's reality, they say and want the Corporation to seriously consider BRTS.

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