Flyover Construction: Can the Doraisamy Rd/Usman Road problem be solved?

(This is a guest post by Hawkeye, one more Chennai-loving blogger, who has his own blog. I have pasted verbatim, a recent post of his that he requested me to bring to the attention of readers of the Chennai Metblog.)

Is this true? Can it really happen?

The flyovers mentioned in the resolution are: North Usman Road – Kodambakkam Main Road junction at an estimated cost of Rs. 9.72 crore; Chamiers Road – Turnbulls Road junction at an estimated cost of Rs.12.5 crore; G.N. Chetty Road – Thirumalai Pillai Road junction at an estimated Rs.16.5 crore; and Usman Road – Doraisamy Salai at an estimated Rs.19.8 crore.

The Problem: I have often wondered about the traffic problems in Doraisami Road/Usman Road intersection in T.Nagar. This is my favorite part of the city so I mentally drew plans for a flyover. Sometimes I drew them on paper. You know – If I was suddenly made Chief Minister I needed to have a quick solution in hand :-) . I really couldn’t come up with a concrete solution. all my quick fix solutions nuking out Pothys was as far as I got. Anywho – Lets see this problem;

Place Description/Context: On the Eastern side of Doraisamy road, lies Usman road (which is perpendicular to Doraisamy). From East -> West – Traffic flows through Panagal Park road (which is further East of Usman Road) leading to a left in Usman road and a quick right on Doraisamy road. This whole section has comfortable space for 2 cars to travel side-by-side. Whereas there are 30,000 cars trying to travel side-by-side. How do you allieviate this problem? (asking people to vacate and live in another city is not an option). On the other side of Doraisamy Road is Thambiah Reddy road (which is parallel to Usman Road and perpendicular to Doraisamy road). On Doraisamy road is ofcourse the much maligned subway (underbridge?). The road goes below the North Madras — South Madras/South-Tamizh-Nadu suburban train tracks (one among the three suburban train line sections in Chennai). Although the poor subway has managed to carry far heavier load than it should have been subjected to, it does get flooded during rainy season (which believe it or not does happen). This is one area which can’t even tolerate a small puncture or a vehicle breakdown.

The whole process comes to a stand still and things get nasty really soon. I think this area can be ranked #1 in Madras (or the world) as far traffic density is conerned. more thing. This whole area (in Usman Road) is the heartbeat of the city’s retail shopping experience. The money transacted for retail shopping here is one among the highest in Asia. Pothys, a six-storeyed twin-building textile shop, lies on Usman road directly facing Dorasamy Road (thereby nullyfying the superstition that ‘a house/business facing a road will be doomed’) and Pothys is the most crowded shop that you will ever see. It pumps out and pumps in 1000 people/hour into (and from) the Usman Road/Doraisamy Junction that we are trying to fix.

Past Solutions by the Govt:

1) After several toggles they have finally made the section of South Usman Road, which is south of the Doraisamy/Usman intersection, a 1-way street. Vehicles coming from East (Pondy Bazar, Gn Chetty Rd, VenkatNarayana Rd) can only go South on Usman or West on Duraisamy, from that intersection. Vehicles coming from the West (Mambalam, Ashok Nagar, Kodambakkam) cannot turn right on Usman road to go South, they have to take N. Usaman road.

2) During Diwali, which is when the area has 10 times more shoppers than normal days, Duraisamy road is made 1-way (allowing East -> West Traffic). Madley road subway acts as a poor substitute for traffic going other way.

3) They removed the bus stop for buses coming from Mambalam (West) to Panagal park (East) in the early 90s. Thats pretty much it. The streetside hawkers in Usman road will always be there inspite of the law against it.

4) The only thing I will commend the govt is for the excellent traffic regulation, which by far the best I have seen. This place could really be bad. That it actually has a throughput is credit to the traffic police.

My (failed) solutions:

1) Firstly, what will you do during the construction perod. It is going to be a big B I G BIG mess. How will you divert traffic – (a) the Arcot FLyover or (b) poor old Madley Road or (c) Rear entry through Anna Salai -> Kathipara -> 100 Ft Road. Knowing the govt – they won’t do anything and will let the chaotic public figure it out. So a 1 year construction means the T.Nagar MLA will never be re-elected for the rest of his political career (since the MLA is ADMK it might not be an issue)

2) Panagal park can’t be shrunk or demolished. I inquired, it falls under ASI (Archelogical Society of India) or something similar. To cut the long story short -It is constructed-by/the-property-of/in-memory-of the Rajah of Panagal (or something like that).

3) A flyover that starts in Panagal Park Road (opp to Nalli) that curves to the left in Usman Rd goes on top of Dorasamy road, above the Railway track (which is above Doraisamy road) and ends where? Three choices here – (a) Thambiah Reddy Road intersection, (b) Arya Gowda Road intersection or (c) Brindhavan St Extn. All three are horrible choices. There is really no space to land a Bullock Cart there, let alone a flyover. If somehow they manage to put it in a place – then the flyover will have traffic flowing East -> West and Doraisamy will have West -> East flowing traffic( Pothys is East, West Mambalam ofcourse is West :-) )

4) A mirror of item # (3) mentioned above. A flyover that starts in West somewhere in (a) Thambiah Reddy Road (b) Arya Gowda Road (c) Brindhavan St Extn. This flyover goes directly above Doraisamy road and turns left on top of Usman road and ends in front of Saravana stores (which is almost as crowded as Pothys) in N. Usman road. The traffic going West -> East will use this flyover.

4a) This is an extension of 4. But instead of ending the Eastern side of flyover in N.Usman road, we can make it all grandoise and take the flyover above Panagal Park. This would give us the opportunity to fork out the flyover – one would land in G.N Chetty road and the other in Pondy Bazar Road ( a three-way part could make the third land in Venkat Narayana Road). This would be totally awesome and really effecient. The down side is it would take 10 years to build and the traffic would quaraple by then. ( If whats happening in Bangalore is an indication (flyover in Bannergatta Rd & the flyover in that signal near the airport road), governments will change and the construction will stop. I thought something like that is barbaric and would never happen in civilized India – but its happening right in front of our eyes. )
4b) A further extension of (4a) – We fork the West side of the flyover to (a) Thambiah Reddy Road (b) Arya Gowda Road (c) Brindhavan St Extn. This would be awesome but difficult to implement.

5) A flyover that starts in Panagal Park Road (opp to Nalli) that takes a left in Usman Rd and lands in South Usman road: This is a waste. 99% of the traffic goes to Doraisamy. This helps nobody.

6) Don’t build subways. Establish one-ways. Improve Madley road and make that as the East -> West flowing traffic. This needs extensive rework and relaying of Western part of Madley Subway roads. Doraisamy would just cater to West -> East flowing traffic. Easier said than done.

What will they do?:

Lets say the ADMK councillors do approve the plan – what sort of plan does the DMK have? I just have a bad feeling of (a) changing landscape (b) dirty construction life (c) falling real estate prices (even though its skyrocketing like crazy now).

5 Comments so far

  1. Anand (unregistered) on July 4th, 2006 @ 9:10 pm

    Mukund, as a corrollary to the flyover ideas, I suppose there should also be a good look at long-term development of the ‘shopping district’. Thinking in terms of multi-storeyed parking, pedestrianised areas, neutral open-floor zones for small exhibitions/displays, etc.. the kind of thing you’d find in any reasonable city around the world.
    As a start, nuking Pothys might not be a bad idea… if it takes down the new hideous Saravana building along with it. In fact Bristol’s Broadmead shopping are was pretty much constructed like that. They let the Germans bomb it to hell during WW2, and then they built it from scratch. Now they’re redoing it because it was all built in horrible post-war style.

  2. thennavan (unregistered) on July 4th, 2006 @ 9:52 pm

    Anand, your suggestions are the kind that any forward-thinking, proactive civic body/government would do, but given how many infrastructural things have been “allowed” to happen in Chennai/Thamizhnaadu in general, I have my doubts that the infamous “most-congested” area of T.Nagar/Chennai would ever change to anything from the chaos it presents itself as now.

  3. Nilu (unregistered) on July 5th, 2006 @ 3:47 am

    lol! Bharathu antha doctara pathaya illaya?

  4. shek (unregistered) on July 5th, 2006 @ 1:50 pm

    A flyover @ Doraisamy road?then tht will turn into a railway line between a flyover and a subway.

  5. Hawkeye (unregistered) on July 5th, 2006 @ 8:22 pm


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