Newly opened Whitefield bridge brings relief, worries

Nearly two weeks ago, a major chokepoint in city’s north-eastern fringes was eliminated when citizens starting driving over the Whitefield-Kadugodi railway overbridge. The bridge connects the Kadugodi-Seegehalli-Kannamangala area north of the Whitefield Railway Station with the rest of Bengaluru city.

After wait of nearly four years and a particularly excruciating two years, the clean, well-done road with bridge bounding walls nicely painted seems like a heaven-slapped fast lane for weary motorists here. It now takes only a minute to cross over what has been a 20-40 minutes detour, leading to an extra hour of road-time every day for most people going into the city and back. The bridge has one lane each for the two directions of traffic.

However, the bridge does not have a divider and a series of accidents have started piling up in short span of time.

A car entering the bridge ramp on the wrong side on Sunday July 25th around 1pm. Pic: Subramaniam Vincent.

There’s only a yellow line painted along the middle of the road to separate traffic in the two directions. At least some of the accidents have happened due to motorists using undivided sections of the bridge’s ramps to take U-turns, and by driving on the opposite lane at high speeds.

Praveen Sood, Bengaluru’s Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic and Security), insists that accidents happen due to irresponsible driving rather than lack of dividers. The 7-metre wide bridge may become narrower if a divider is built, and the 5-cm-high divider can even be driven over by motorists. "When traffic opens in a road, there is an initial euphoria and dividers do not eliminate the traffic. But we do think that a divider is needed and we will write to the Railways about this," he says. (See also: Interview with Praveen Sood, published on July 26th.)

The Whitefield-Kadugodi stretch is part of the Whitefield-Hoskote Road (called Varthur Road at one place). It runs all the way from the Marathahalli/ORR intersection to the NH-4 highway, going east for one stretch first and then north from the Varthur lake area. The entire stretch is a divided road, and only the stretch over the new ROB is undivided.

A top engineering official South-Western Railway’s construction arm says,"We are aware of the accidents and have been informing the traffic police. We are ready to construct a divider on the road if the traffic police send us a letter asking for it". The official oversaw the last phase of the long-delayed bridge through to its completion. He spoke to Citizen Matters under condition that he not be named.

With the opening of the ROB, congestion has expectedly increased at the Hope Farm intersection, the first major signal south on the ROB towards Whitefield. This is where the Marthahalli-Whitefield-Kadugodi traffic meets the K R Puram-ITPL-Channasandra flow.The green signal is on for Kadugodi-Whitefield direction for only 30-40 seconds. Sood said that the signal will be recalibrated within a month when the traffic stabilizes.

"Earlier traffic in this road was very low, but now traffic is decreasing towards Channasandra side and increasing towards Kadugodi side. For the time being, we are changing the signal manually. Within a month the whole traffic pattern in the area will stabilize and we will change the time setting then," he says. 

The BBMP has planned an underpass at this intersection, but the procedures have been suspended now as a case is going on in the High Court after a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) was filed by former Mayor P R Ramesh (Congress) over irregularities in tender procedures.

"All procedures have been stopped and we will proceed with the construction only after the case is closed. This might take a long time," Chikkarayappa, BBMP Chief Engineer for Major Roads, says. Ramesh declined to comment to Citizen Matters on the PIL citing possible contempt of court.

Traffic Police Commissioner Praveen Sood says that when the Hope Farm underpass work begins alternate traffic arrangements will be made. "BBMP informs us 3-4 months before any construction starts. Then we ask them to make alternate roads or strengthen existing roads so that traffic can be diverted to these roads", says Sood.

In the meantime, nearly two weeks after the long-awaited bridge opened up, commuters continue to enjoy the steep reduction in stress levels it has brought. On 15th July, when traffic first started to go over the bridge, there was an outpouring of joy and relief all round and it was best seen on residential e-mailing lists of the area’s affluent residents.

Reshmi Singh, in her late thirties, a training and education consultant and avid reader for whom the bridge has now become a lifeline to a circulating library and food stores, wrote this in an email to her fellow residents: "Went over the bridge….felt as it someone put a stent and opened an artery in my heart!".

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About Subramaniam Vincent 24 Articles
Subramaniam Vincent is Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief, Citizen Matters. His twitter handle is @subbuvincent.

16 Comments

  1. Hi Subbu, after long time I would like to revive the issue of extending the Volvo 335E service beyond Kadugodi. As advised many e mails were sent to Mr Sampangi Ramagowda, CTMO, BMTC which I followed up a couple of times but nothing has happened. Would it be possible for you to take up the issue once again. If we have to do something please let us know. Regards, Murari Agarwal.

  2. Noted Murari. I think the DTO I spoke to was aware of this as well. Let as many letters as possible go to BMTC.

    -Subbu

  3. Hi Subbu
    I have got feed back from a resident of Nitesh Forest Hills that Earlier Volvo Buses used to go till Hoskote, Due to Railway Over Bridge Construction, the Route was Cut-Short to Kadugodi only. Since Construction of Bridge is over, this facility can be restored.
    Regards
    Murari Agarwal

  4. I have sent the following letter to Mr Ramagowda today.

    Dear Mr. Ramagowda,
    I would like to draw your kind attention to a lot of high end residential complexes coming up in the stretch between Kadugodi Bus Stand and Safal Market / Bearys Global Research Triangle in Whitefield. Sobha Amethyst comprising around 400 luxury apartments / Villas at Kannamangala Village is now being occupied fast in addition to some other Villa Projects already occupied and upcoming e.g. Adarsh Serenity etc. on the same road. Nitesh Forest Hill Project is also completed and ready for occupation.

    At present Volvo Bus Service on Route 335E starts and terminates at Kadugodi Bus Stand . It is proposed to extend this service at least upto Safal Market / Bearys Global Research Triangle with a few stops in between. It will be a great relief to the residents of this stretch who otherwise, have to travel long distances by their own cars. The occupancy of Volvo, which all the time is very low between Kadugodi and ITPL, will also improve as many people from the above areas may prefer to travel by Volvo for their offices. Many students in higher classes may also use the same as their school / college buses may not be coming to this area.

    In view of the above I request you to please give a serious thought on the subject and get your survey done at the earliest.

    Regards

    Murari Agarwal

  5. I spoke to Sampangi Ramagowda, Chief Traffic Management Officer, BMTC, this morning. He has a good understanding of the terrain where the Volvo buses are needed.

    He says they will commission a survey in the area and then take a call by Jan’11 after the panchayat elections are over.

    He’s asking for the requests to be send to ctmobmtc AT gmail.com, addressed to him.

    I recommend that people in each layout do an quickfire internal survey and send individual request letters to him with rough numbers of how many users there might be to speed up decision making there.

    Also, Ramagowda says peak hours alone might work, if the extend. He was thinking through with me that Safal Market might be a starting point, with a few stops on the way the bridge.

    After you send your letters, please update this page. Thanks.

    -Subbu

  6. Some others in my layout as well have been asking for the exact extension for 335-E. Yesterday, I got the coordinates of the BMTC official who handles this. Let me check and get back.

  7. Subbu, we all know that you took the lead to make this dream of Whitefield ROB true. Thanks for the same and also for taking up the issue for further improvements. Simultaneously can we also think about extending the Volvo Bus Service beyond Kadugodi Bus Stand to Safal Market / Bearys Global Research Triangle. As you know a lot of residential complexes are coming up in this stretch and extension of Volvo service will definitely help the residents and will also generate more revenue for BMTC. I have written to BMTC but there is no response from them. I feel it could be done if you take interest in this matter.

  8. Now that the ROB is complete, it is time to start pushing Raiways for a footbridge over the track. I see hundereds of people crossing the tracks everyday, which is a very unsafe situation. I hope we do not have to wait for an accident before this is taken up.

  9. The latest problem seems to be the big spike in the truck traffic on the main road connecting old madras road to whitefield through the bridge. The peace and quiet of the communities is constantly disturbed by the blaring horns of the passing trucks at all times of the night and day. Most of the trucks I presume are going towards Hosur road and taking this short cut instead of old madras road and then ORR. Can anything be done on this front?

  10. Also, there is a need for a CLEAR U-TURN sign on the Saibaba Ashram side. When going from the Rly Line side towards Hoskote, Golden Blossom comes on the left side. About 20 metres or so further ahead there is an opening in the divider for a U-turn but the opening is sometimes not visible for drivings coming up from the line.

    Putting a sign will at least end excuse-giving by bikers in particular. (It may not help people who still stubbornly want to go up the ramp and take a U.)

  11. A couple of days ago, I was pleasantly surprised to see some activity on the Whitefield ROB. They were putting up road dividers on the ROB, but with intermittent gaps. This I thought was a good idea that serves to address all the concerns in the article and also the comments.

    That was what I thought till I actually saw that nothing can stop the motorcyclists and Autos. They are still adamant in cutting across the flyover to cross the road and not take the trouble of going ahead just about 30 meters to take a U-turn.

    the one thing that can be done now is to extend the divider at the end of the ramp near the Sai baba ashram end. This will make it that much more difficult for the motorcyclists and autos to travel on the opposite side of the road, before they cross the road.

  12. The newly opened bridge is a life line for me as it saves more than 1 hour of my commuting time. I was really excited to drive on it first time.But, I also think there should be a divider build across to avoid accidents. Also, the start of the divider at the end of the bridge seems to be very dangerous, as some motorists can run over it if you miss noticing its start after the yellow line. A full strech divider of same short over bridge would be definitely be a positive.

  13. Why don’t we consider traffic spikes at both the entrance of the bridge?

    These spikes prevent access in one direction while allowing access in the other direction.

    In addition have cameras to catch the violators and fine them heavily.

  14. I am also one of the thrilled users of this ROB and I am upset to see the 2-wheelrs and some cars cutting across from the other side of the road with total disregard to traffic discipline and safety.

    The issue with the divider is that if it going to be made of the stone blocks that are currently there on the road from Golden Blossom till Belathur, then it will only make it doubly inconvenient.
    – the two wheeler riders can easily remove one block and still cut across the road( as they are doing near Belathur)
    – the median on the flyover will be inconvenient for the 4 wheeler users(in case of break down) and you will still have mobikes cutting across.
    – of course, the only consolation would be that it will prevent the 4 wheelers from cutting across the road.

    if the divider has to be there then it has to be better than those stone blocks so that the two wheeler users cannot even budge it.

    if indeed the divider that the two-wheeler users cannot even budge comes up, if any truck breaks down on the flyover, we will have no choice but to go via Chanasandra! !!

    Today while I was taking the flyover, I saw one truck broken down on our side of the road. there was no way i could have passed the truck if there was a divider on the flyover.

    WHICH IS THE LESSER PROBLEM TO PUT UP WITH? bikers cutting across or having to face the situation of a truck breaking down on the flyover( and hoping the possibility of this happening is once in many years!!). I think if the divider is done, undoing is not going to be easy.

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