Theagaraya Nagar flyover is touchstone for many more?

Building elevated bridges is somehow being seen even in the 21st century as remarkable feats of governance, the latest example being the Usman Road-Doraisamy Road flyover in Chennai.

Media reports of the inauguration of the narrow flyover that snakes over a narrow road indicate that the Dravidian parties have only graduated from looking at cement bus shelters as engineering feats to elevated bridges.  Some of that mindset resonates in this report on the inauguration in The Hindu today titled “Karunanidhi keen on easing congestion”.  There is another front page report of the same occasion urging DMK cadres to be ready to “be ready to retain State power in Tamil Nadu“.

It will not be like this everyday. A screenshot of The Hindu report on the Usman Rd - Duraisamy Rd flyover inauguration

It will not be like this everyday. A screenshot of The Hindu report on the Usman Rd - Duraisamy Rd flyover inauguration

To anyone who has occasion to travel through Theagaraya Nagar, it is evident that this new bridge is not going to help much. It disgorges traffic from the North Usman Road end at the junction of Siva Vishnu temple, but just yards ahead is the T.Nagar bus stand in a four-road intersection. There is no way the traffic is going to move smoothly even with a one-way restriction.

The disruptive impact of the flyover on pedestrians and hawkers, who are normally compatible but are at loggerheads because of poor civic planning, may be deeply traumatic. Both these classes of road users must now contend with shoppers arriving in cars who will crowd the spaces under the new bridge, or flyover if you will.

We will wait to see the impact. Meanwhile, The Times of India, which initially forecast reduced congestion and savings in fuel (story is here) quickly changed its mind and wrote that things are perhaps worse after the flyover has been opened. That story is not on the paper’s website today, although it is found in the Chennai print edition.

Meanwhile, the irony of the DMK’s diminishing scale of planning should be evident to all. In its halcyon days when it had just trounced the Congress, the party came up with flyover plans that were far more impressive, at least on a relative scale. The Coimbatore flyover is one instance. It allows vehicles to enter from any road, and exit on any of the connected roads, which I think were four. The provision for a subway cycle track under the elevated vehicle pathway was of course left neglected, but it was at least part of the plan.

The Anna Flyover in Gemini is also advanced by comparison. Of course, a clover leaf is being built at Kathipara Junction, but credit for that kind of plan (this is for those who love flyovers, not me) should go to the NHAI, not the DMK planners.

Apparently, the DMK party and its visibly wealthier rival, the AIADMK party lost faith in bicycles long ago. The symbols of success are Tata Sumos, Mahindra Scorpios, and for those who have done really well, an imported SUV. The arthritic and geriatric leaders of the two parties are no longer able to walk, while the younger scions perhaps use treadmills at home. Decidedly, no self-respecting Dravidian politician will be seen using public transport, beyond an autorickshaw. Buses are strictly for those who could not make it big in life.

There is thus no provision for pedestrians either. Bus services are also approached with a token approach, the overriding concern being that the transport unions should not be disturbed as an agitational base for politics, should such a need arise. There is no worry that people need more transport options and expanded services. The Congress, mummified long ago in Tamil Nadu, rests quietly as all this poorly planned activity goes on.

Such a shameful retrograde evolution is actually being sold to a gullible citizenry and an even more naive media in the 21st century as progress.

At least in the future, the DMK and the AIADMK could plan for civic facilities with a more people-friendly approach, and aim to provide genuine solutions. If they are worried about their coffers drying up as a result, they could place collection boxes for party funds all over the city, and we will all be glad to contribute.

(An earlier post on the North Usman Road flyover connecting Mahalingapuram from T.Nagar is here.)

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