A solution to the traffic congestion at the busy Chandani Chowk may not be in sight, as any proposals to widen the narrow bridge that connects NDA-Pashan Road have not been included in the Highway expansion plan of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).
Motorists for long have been complaining of the traffic chaos due to the bottleneck at the busy junction. But their concerns were heightened recently after a 17-year-old college student was killed in an accident at the junction.
After the uproar over the death, a team of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) officials visited the spot and said the work on two service roads to ease vehicular congestions will be completed in the next two months. But, according to transport experts the service road won’t ease the problem and the traffic mess will continue.
The two proposed service roads begin from Kothrud to Chandani Chowk Junction, while the other commences at Pashan. “The bridge won’t be able to cater to the heavy traffic after the construction of the two service roads because the approach to bridge on either sides has three lanes, while the bridge will continue to have two lanes.
So the need of the hour is an additional overbridge to resolve the traffic mess. We have communicated our concerns to the NHAI several times, but to no avail,” said Chandmal Parmar, transport expert and member of the national highway advisory committee.
When this reporter visited the site, it was clear that the service road would not diffuse the traffic congestion. Moreover, work on the Dehuroad-Satara highway expansion from four lanes to six lanes (addition of one lane to each side) is already ongoing. A 40-km-long stretch passes through the busy Chandani Chowk Junction, which motorists use to enter the city or to go towards Mumbai.
In 1988-89 after widening Mumbai-Bangalore highway lanes, NHAI had constructed the bridge to connect Pashan. Due to increasing traffic on the highway, NHAI took to increasing the lanes of Dehuroad-Satara highway, which is a part of Mumbai-Bangalore highway (NH 04).
NHAI officials admitted that in the overall expansion plan, the bridge is not included. “During the construction of this bridge in 1988, this area did not come under Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) limits, and I was the Sarpanch of the area which is known as Bavdhan. In the last 20 years, traffic has increased steadily, but the width of the bridge is the same. For the last five years, we have continuously demanded authorities to increase the width or construct a supplementary bridge. It is the responsibility of the NHAI.
They have not surveyed the area properly. Despite informing them of the problem, they have not included the bridge in the expansion proposal,” said Dilip Vede-Patil, former Sarpanch of Bavdhan area.
The other side
Dhananjay Tawade, chief manager, NHAI, said, “The proposal of expansion has been made after a detailed survey by NHAI experts. Currently, the expansion of the bridge is not feasible because we would have to alter the project plans. To expand the bridge, we have to stop vehicular traffic on the Mumbai-Bangalore highway or divert it to some other route, which will be complicated and time consuming. Two additional service roads will solve the problem of traffic congestion, and if the problem continues we will plan for the expansion of the bridge in the second phase.