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Rs 157-crore Swargate chowk flyover to multiply problems?

With the PMC neglecting road widening under it, both vehicular and pedestrian movement will be adversely impacted at one of the city's busiest junctions

While the flyover at Jedhe Chowk in Swargate is being touted as the solution to commuter and pedestrian woes, citizens are complaining that unless the PMC decides to undertake widening of the road underneath it, the problems may actually increase. Jedhe Chowk is one of the busiest junctions in the city.

Jedhe Chowk
Jammed junction: Jedhe Chowk in Swargate is a hub for intercity as well as intracity travel, including the BRT, resulting in considerable passenger and commuter movement. Pic/Mohan Patil

Work on the 1.4 km L-shaped flyover began in November 2013 and it will connect traffic on Shankar Sheth Road and Satara Road. When it is ready, it expected to be a big help for public transport buses in the city, but the road underneath the flyover could turn out to be a nightmare for vehicular traffic and pedestrians.

Not again: The University junction and Magarpatta flyovers, among others, are already riddled with problems.
Not again: The University junction and Magarpatta flyovers, among others, are already riddled with problems. Pic/Mohan Patil

It has been reported that the PMC will not undertake the required widening of road at the Jedhe Chowk corner towards Saras Baug, which is where the flyover will turn and its pillars will come up. This omission at the critical corner will have a serious impact on traffic movement and road safety due to inadequate carriageway (the part of a road used by vehicular traffic) and footpath width. The flyover is expected to be ready in 2016.

‘Shocking’
“It is shocking to know that PMC will not be widening the road sufficiently at the corner in this chowk to get a carriageway width of 7.5 metre and footpath width of about 3 metre. Since there is a commercial establishment at the side of the road, extra clear space has to also be provided in front of it for people coming in and out of the complex. This has to be in addition to the normal footpath space for pedestrians. It appears that the required road widening is not being done to protect the property at the corner from getting affected,” said NGO Pedestrian First’s convener Prashant Inamdar.

“This will result in an absurd situation where the road’s width at the corner will be narrower than the lead-up and the exit. The property juts into the carriageway like a hump and will cause vehicles to take an extended turn. The niche caused by the hump could cause cluttering at the corner because of halting rickshaws and hawkers. All this will lead to traffic congestion and unsafe road conditions for pedestrians and commuters. The narrow road at the corner will become a permanent disability for Jedhe Chowk,” he added.

“We demand that necessary road widening should be done at the Jedhe chowk corner considering both the vital aspects — carriageway width of minimum 7.5 metre and footpath width of minimum 3 metre. An additional funnel-shaped subway should also be provided,” said Inamdar.

The other side

When mid-day tried to contact the PMC engineers related to this project, no one was willing to come on record. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior engineer said, “Widening the road and the footpath is necessary but currently we do not have the funds to extend the project. We are meeting the MSRDC and the traffic police to make this project more citizen-friendly and the issue of widening is also being considered. A final call will be taken on it soon and further work will start at the chowk accordingly.”

Concerns
Following are some of the major concerns raised by the Pedestrian First NGO and citizens:
>> The carriageway width at the corner should ideally be more than or at least equal to the carriageway width on both sides of the corner. This is to ensure smooth turning of vehicles. Any constriction at the turning point would adversely impact smooth traffic flow and cause congestion.

>> There have been serious problems with earlier flyover projects executed in Pune. Apart from the issues related to flyover alignment and the like, another major problem has been the width of service roads at the ground level adjacent to the flyovers. Inadequate width of carriageway on these roads is a cause of severe congestion near and below the University junction and Magarpatta flyovers. PMC needs to keep in mind that traffic on the flyovers often less than traffic below them.

>> Jedhe chowk is a hub for intercity as well as intracity transport, including the BRT, resulting in considerable passenger and commuter movement. Bus stands for Vadgaon Dhayari, Kothrud and Warje are located on Saras Baug road and many pedestrians will be using the footpath. With a commercial complex also located at the corner, a wide footpath becomes absolutely necessary.

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