What’s this Tender SURE all about?

Kundalahalli gate, Hosur Road, Old Airport Road, CBD, Old Madras Road, Koramangala Sony junction, Banashankari bus stop, Nrupathunga Road, K G Road, Mysore Road, Tumkur road are a few areas that commuters would avoid if they could. These are wide roads but the sheer volume of traffic, stretches of roads that bottleneck and constant civil works like cables or drainage pipe laying or electrical transformer repairs make these roads perfect traffic gridlock examples.

Roads under Tender SURE Phase 1

  1. Vittal Mallya Road
  2. St. Marks Road
  3. Richmond Road
  4. Residency Road
  5. Museum Road
  6. Commissariat Road
  7. Cunningham Road

Roads under Tender SURE Phase 2

  1. Jayanagar 11th Main
  2. Modi Hospital Road
  3. Siddaiah Puranik Road
  4. KG Road
  5. Nrupathunga Road

Rs 17,802 crore is said to have been spent on construction and repair of roads in the past 10 years in Bengaluru. The current state of many roads and the need for to repair them speaks volumes about the quality and contract process.

A leaf out of the book on the city’s road development history and practical realities formed the basis of Tender SURE roads, a multi-crore project aiming to upgrade roads in the Central Business District to international standards. According to Jana Urban Space Foundation (JUSP) that is spearheading the project, Tender SURE. (Specifications for Urban Road Extension) road standards mandate the integration of networked services under the road – water, sewage, power, OFC, gas, and storm water drains.

The design of Tender SURE roads prioritises the comfort and safety of pedestrians and cyclists, as well as recognises the needs of street vendors and hawkers. Tender S.U.R.E. also combines street landscape and hardscape aesthetics with practical considerations of user behavioral change.

All civic agencies are involved in the project discussions from the planning stage and their role in the planning, execution and maintenance is finalised.

Focus points of Tender SURE

  • De-incentivise use of private transport
  • Uniform lane width
  • Pedestrian-friendly footpaths
  • Utility ducts on both sides of the roads
  • Cycle lanes wherever feasible

Tender SURE roads in short are pilot / model roads that are planned to last longer than the current conventional lowest-bid contractor-laid roads, that not only need constant maintenance and repair but also keep getting dug up by other service providers. In Tender SURE, the monitoring system in place is supposed to be strict and is expected to ensure that standards are adhered to and traditional commission system is completely removed from the picture.

Tender SURE work in progress on St Marks Road. Pic: Josephine Joseph

Roads

Length

Existing ROW (m)

Existing carriageway (m)

Proposed carriageway

Residency Road

2

27.5-35

22-32

12.7

Richmond Road

2.7

12-18

8-12

9

Cunningham Road

1.47

10-16

7-11

6-6.6

St. Marks Road

1.8

20-23

11-16

6-9

Museum Road

1.2

12-18

10-12

9

Commissariat Road

0.6

15-24

9

9

Vittal Mallya Road

0.6

15-16

12

9

Road work under Tender SURE has begun and almost complete on some roads of Phase I. Work for roads under Phase II has begun on some roads. In September 2014, the Tender SURE project was kicked off in Jayanagar in the presence of the local MLA and MP. Work has also begun on busy Kempegowda Road. The traffic police are working with the executing agency on work plans for Nrupatunga Road.

On plans to reduce footpath width V Ravichander, Urban Planning Expert, has been quoted saying, “It would be disastrous to reduce the size of footpaths under the Tender SURE projects. Pedestrians are at the heart of the Tender SURE project. The government should understand that pedestrians represent a bigger vote bank than motorists. By reducing the width of the footpath, it is kicking pedestrians out of the whole project. Instead of Tender SURE roads, they should be called BBMP Roads. Cities like Singapore and London levy congestion fee on motorists, and focus on motor lane reduction. In contrast, we are looking at pedestrian lane reduction!”

In the same article, R K Misra, Member, BBMP’s Technical Advisory Committee says, “The decision to reduce the width of the footpath must be strongly condemned. The parameters for the Tender SURE project were cleared by the High Court-appointed Technical Advisory Committee(TAC). Any change has to be brought before the TAC for approval. The reduction is a technical matter and has to be supported by a study. Has the minister or BBMP conducted any study? If the Tender SURE roads are causing bottlenecks, then what about those roads which create bottlenecks without it? If the TAC is not involved, it is possible that the court may intervene.”

Why is everyone upset?

Despite the parameters for the Tender SURE project being cleared by a High Court-appointed Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), there has been criticism from road users and elected representatives alike, who are accustomed to have roads widened to make way for motorised traffic. Road users’ grouse has mostly got to do with the current inconvenience faced and to a small extent extrapolating what the traffic scene on a narrowed road maybe. Many elected representatives have complained of not being involved in the planning and execution of the project, critiqued the cost of the project and say their constituents end up spending more time in traffic. It clearly indicates that the opinion of lawmakers on the merits of Tender SURE is still divided.

Transport Minister and Bangalore in-charge minister Ramalinga Reddy had indicated that the state government would go back to the drawing board and redesign the project by reducing the footpaths. News reports of these instances and comments said to be from urban experts and prominent citizens led the Mayor to inspect roads and set a deadline of March 2015 for some of the Tender SURE roads. It also led to statements by the BBMP Commissioner that suggestions of corporators will be taken in the second phase. Swati Ramanathan, co-founder of JUSP, has maintained that the current roads will see three times the expenditure over a 10-year-period, than Tender SURE roads.

Road user’s attitude

Tender SURE has included “practical considerations for user behaviour change” in their plans. This maybe one critical area the executors of the project may have missed. Behavioural change of road users needs to be done simultaneously with road development and not after the road is done. Road users need to be sensitised and road rule need to be strictly enforced. The proposed average carriageway is about 9m and given the sheer volume of traffic on these roads, road user behaviour can prove detrimental to the whole project. For instance,

Extremely happy to know that several roads will have dedicated cycle tracks. This will certainly encourage more folks to commute by cycle, especially those are are worried for their safety. 1.5 metres should hold up now, maybe even for the next five years. But the number of cyclists on the road is bound to increase in the next couple of years, even more so, if the city is going to have infrastructure dedicated to cyclists.

Nikhil Ram Mohan, Co-founder, Crankmeister Bike Works.

  • Lack of lane discipline
  • Vehicles coming out from establishments and side roads onto the main road at a sharp angles and then cutting across the road
  • Pedestrians crossing at random points of the road
  • Buses not parking in bus bays or stopping anywhere else on these roads to let off / pick up passengers
  • People getting dropped off / picked up by private vehicles / cabs / autorickshaws
  • Two-wheelers using the handicap-friendly rams on footpaths to ride on the footpaths
  • Vehicles parked on the roads
  • Vehicles parked on the foot path

Vehicles parked haphazardly on Tender SURE roads, while no pedestrian is seen. Pic: Venkat Raman

Transport and our district in-charge Minister Ramalinga Reddy has been quoted saying, “our motorists are given to driving and riding in a haphazard manner. Hence, the size of the footpaths will be reduced to decongest bottlenecks in various parts of CBD.” Though he may have been looking at a short term reprieve, what will be the effect on the comprehensive plan proposed in Tender SURE? Reports say almost a third of the project budget of Rs 200 crores has already been spent. What then would be the impact of short-term fixes on design, traffic and cost?

Related Articles

Roads to be asphalted and improved in 2014 by BBMP
City’s roads to be pothole-free by February: BBMP Commissioner

About Josephine Joseph 46 Articles
Josephine Joseph researches and writes on urban governance, civic and environmental issues in Bangalore City, from a 'citizen' point of view.

12 Comments

  1. I am glad that there is a healthy discussion happening on this much-hyped project.. This project is not only shrinking the carriage way but also shrinking democracy. This project has not only flawed the democratic process and procedures of project approval but also has technical flaws cited by various urban experts. The project proponents do not have any expertise of road designing. We too are in favour of pedestrian friendly roads but are tender sure roads really being constructed for pedestrians? Has there been any study on density of pedestrians on these roads before deciding the width of the foot paths? The width of the footpath was decided by asking the OFC companies how much space they require under the footpath. These companies recently have been penalised for not paying the rent. Is this an attempt to hide these companies. why 7 roads (10Km) of the central business district were chosen for this project. These roads are comparatively in good condition when compared to the other areas in Bangalore which do not have proper roads. Selected roads house elite residences, malls, 7 and 5 star hotels etc.. How can the fund-strapped BBMP is expected to can spend 100 crores on 10kms of the roads when the BBMP do not have money to pay pourakarmikas, do not money to rum BBMP schools, No medicines at PHCs, Children are dying of hunger and malnourishment etc. This project has violated the 74th CAA: The roads and bridges come under the obligatory functions of the Local government but in this project the Cheif Secretary has asked BBMP to stay out of the project. There were no consultations with the elected representatives (councillors) and other concerned department like traffic before the implementation of the project and hence we witness the traffic on these roads. Such big infrastructural project was implemented without public consultation. This project violates the Revised Master Plan 2015, few roads chosen for tender sure were to be widened (we are not for widening of roads), has this saved few elites like Bangalore Club from Land acquisition. How can a few elite approach the CM and get the project involving hundreds of crores approved in less than 2 hours without bringing this to the notice of local government and public? 200 crores of public (tax) money is being spent on this project. How can any project be implemented without studying the local context and culture of urban roads? Trees are the life and characteristic of the Bangalore roads which are being treated without mercy. Roots of the trees are cut haphazardly, the trees are cut wherever required. In future these roads will have only only few bushes on pretext on greenery. Few experts say the CBD will be desertified as it will not any water as the design does not include proper water harvesting structures. These roads will not be considered for 2 way roads in future. This roads are causing violence on the bus commuters who are made to walk all distance to take a bus (i am one of the bus commuters). The Cobblers, street vendors who have been vending in these roads are asked to leave. Construction workers who are engaged in this project do not have dignified living and working conditions. There was a death of a pedestrian who fell into the uncovered storm water drain few weeks ago on Commissariat road near Garuda Mall where Tender SURE work is going on. Who is accountable for his death ? Is It the state, is it the contractor, Is it BBMP or Jana Urban Space Foundation who proposed this project.

  2. though the TFS has good intentions, but definitely it is flawed in implementation with regard to footpath,..We need proper footpaths ..adequately sized based on footfalls..and not unnecessarily wide, Reducing Road width is an ill thought concept, this will lead to Traffic snarls /jams, people will end up more time in traffic, loss of productive time,, will lead to increased pollution (which the footpath user will have to suck-up). and Loss of valuable fuel. The road width needs to address the traffic volume & cater for future increase (if there is any scope), If & when we have perfect public transport, and Metro becomes as efficient as in London,. then we can have wide footpaths ..

  3. V Ravichander, Urban Planning Expert & R K Misra, Member, BBMP’s Technical Advisory Committee are definitely lacking in understanding of the traffic realities and are absolutely wrong in their objections against reducing footpath width,.

    god help us….

  4. No doubt people in-charge of traffic have serious flaws in their thinking,.. but poor thinking by this so called experts.. (not understanding ground realities), will make matters worse.. widened roads with just adequate footpaths (as done in jayanagar area. is the right solution.. as it has eased traffic movement,. provided space for parking and improved pedestrian safety. In-fact as a thumb rule footpaths should not be wider than a car width,.. otherwise people will park cars on the footpath,.. (shown in picture above),.. thereby blocking movement of footpath users jeopardizing their saftey

  5. Recently (yesterday for that matter) i have driven thru vittal malaya road (where this is being executed), its more congested now than it was before.. unnecessarily wide footpath is the culprit.. this footpath issue needs to be addressed immediately…

    suresh chandrashekaran

  6. St Marks road is a glaring example of what a footpath which is wider than need will do to traffic congestion…footpath width needs to be adjusted based on foot falls ..and not by international standards…what applies to other countries ..just will not work here

    suresh.c

  7. there is no doubt that on some of these roads the newly laid footpath is ridiculously , wide.. In fact it is wider than the road itself,…Its poor planning, without considering the amount of traffic,.. Traffic is increasing day by day… I dont see a need for having footpaths more than 1 mtr on narrow roads and not more than 2 mtrs on wider roads(the number of people using foot path is pretty low compared to traffic).. though the ministers comment on road users behavior is out of place,.. but there is no doubt that narrowing roads than its existing width is surely poor thinking and a road to disaster.. (more traffic gridlocks)..unbelievable fuel loss and think of the pollution… impact..and wastage of productive time… definitely the footpath width s a serious issue and needs to re -looked,..

    suresh chandrashekaran

  8. thanks for the article.
    Its a vicious circle – if its difficult for pedestrians to walk, more people will use their vehicles. More vehicles, more traffic. So obviously the solution lies in making blore roads more pedestrian friendly!!!

  9. TenderSURE has its heart in the right place, but I’m increasingly unenthusiastic about the project. And not all of it is Jana USP’s fault.

    As the article rightly points out, the project has completely missed the fact that haphazard driving is a behavior issue. Law enforcement and surveillance have been our Achilles’ heel. There was a good opportunity to step up to a Singapore/London standard by introducing a surveillance plan that covers safety, product quality and environment on all pilot roads. No mention of any of this so far.

    In Singapore (the city that our civic agencies so desperately want to emulate), public construction projects are bafflingly dust-proof. In contrast, most of our flyover/underpass/asphalting development works are disruptive to public to say the least. Recently, Citizen Matters ran an article on the Deve Gowda junction flyover, highlighting this. TenderSURE had a great chance to be different. But sadly, it continues in the same vein as other BBMP/BDA works.

    While I understand that this project was meant to first tackle CBD roads, I’m not convinced about the logic. With our city growing so fast, and pervasively, the term CBD is a misnomer. For e.g, the much-maligned Marathahalli Bridge-Varthur Road stretch desperately needed attention. So, picking and choosing roads from ACROSS the city might’ve not only helped garner public trust, but also made a bigger incremental difference.

    Most importantly, one of the aims of the project is De-incentivising private transport. The logical sequence of events should’ve been: Increase road density (peripheral and arterial) -> increase bus fleet -> enhance last-mile connectivity -> claim (rightfully) that public transport facilities are world-class -> build TenderSURE roads. But here, it’s all ulta!

    In short, we need every single civic body to be on the same page. And God knows the leadership required to assemble this in Indian cities comes at a premium. Here’s still hoping!

  10. Its idiotic of the person to say that `reducing width of footpaths will reduce bottlenecks’. Tender SURE uses the principle the the road width is made uniforms. Clearly our beloved minister does not understand what a `bottleneck’ looks like.

    The primary problem I find with the execution of the Tender SURE project is that while it is being done now provision has been made for pedestrians – hence there is total chaos – with people as well as vehicles on the roads. As a result everyone is upset. I find already that the work on St. Marks road has helped quite a bit.

  11. “our motorists are given to driving and riding in a haphazard manner. Hence, the size of the footpaths will be reduced to decongest bottlenecks in various parts of CBD.”
    Ayyo!!

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