As most of you know, the Bangalore Elevated Tollway from Electronic City (E-City) upto Bommanahalli was inaugurated by the Union minister, Kamal Nath, last week. The government hailed it as a successful project completed in record time. I have been using it since last week, and this is what I observed.
Even though my travel time from E-City to Silk Board junction has reduced by 20 minutes, I clearly see the bottleneck shifting to St Johns, north of Silk Board and to E-City Phase I main entrance in the south. The biggest shocker is E-City Phase I – main entrance, where there a toll booth is under construction. The bus stops on both the sides are also located at the same place. There are pedestrian crossing underpasses at multiple places on Hosur Road (like Bommanahalli, Singasandra, Huskur Gate etc.) but there is no underpass to cross the road for pedestrians at E-City Phase 1, which is critical as bus commuters cross the road there.
This shows the lack of planning and ground level knowledge. E-City does not have a bus station, the highway bus stop serves as both bus stop and station. Now that there is going to be a tollbooth there, imagine the density of vehicles at that point. It’s surely going to be a recipe for disaster if not fixed very soon.
The medians in the road have been shifted unscientifically. At Bommanahalli, the side median at Roopena Agraha has no gap. That makes sense as commuters can go around Silkboard flyover for a u-turn. Down south, the median at E-City junction is closed, but the small flyover to help vehicles take u-turn is still under construction. So now, you need to go to Konappana Agrahara or go to Veerasandra. National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has shifted the Huskur gate median towards Biocon.
The previous median gap was used by trucks going to the fruit market. Now since there is no median opening and truck drivers don’t like to drive an extra mile, they drive on the wrong side breaking the law, at Veerasandra median. This spot also gets heavy traffic from the tollway exit. This is going to be yet another bottleneck if not fixed soon.
On the flyover itself I can see drivers racing their bikes and cars faster than the prescribed speed. As of now, there are only warning notices on the flyovers. I heard that the traffic police were planning on using speed guns and cameras to monitor vehicular movement. It’s yet to be implemented. Setting this up should be a priority. An accident on the elevated highway can be very, very serious. It can hurt the commuters and pedestrians below the highway, apart from those involved in the accident above. There are chances of damaging infrastructure too.
There is a pull over area midway on the elevated road. But it does not have any basic needs like a telephone for emergency calls. There is no dedicated ambulance or medical/fire help. So in a way it’s a waste other than serving as pit-stop for view or vehicle break down.
As of now, the ride on the tollway is free which means the cost could reduce the usage and hence pricing should be practical. These are my observations from the past week. In order to use the tollway efficiently, we need to make the entry and exits smooth, and make it safe to drive on the tollway.
29-Jan-2010: I noticed a couple of accidents today, one involving a bike and another one where a car rammed into the median. Emergency help stationed nearby can help in such situations.