Steel Flyover issue: Is Bengaluru’s Civil Society scoring self goals?

Traffic on Ballari road on a normal week day. Pic: Balaji Ganesan

Civil Society activists in Bengaluru are opposing the Government’s decision, to build a Steel Flyover from Basaveshwara Circle to Hebbal Junction. As someone who supports the causes pursued by many of these activists, I’m surprised by the protests against the Steel Flyover project.

Is the Civil Society working against itself, jeopardising several of the causes we have been pursuing? Do we risk wasting the opportunities provided by this steel flyover project, to improve civic amenities in this part of Bengaluru?

People’s flyover, not VIP flyover

To begin with, the claim that the Steel Flyover is a VIP Flyover to the airport, is inaccurate. BMRCL has released eight potential routes for the Airport Metro Line. We are all invited to choose one among these eight routes. Why would the government give the go ahead to the Airport Metro Line and another “Airport Flyover” on the same day?

Steel Flyover is not meant only for the airport traffic. It is to provide relief to the residents of Malleswaram, RT Nagar, Guttahalli, Sadashivnagar and Hebbal, who are suffering traffic jams every day on Ballari road. The traffic gridlock that exists between Chalukya circle and Hebbala junction will be considered unacceptable by any city.

Do we want to promote Public Transport or not?

Most of us advocate Public Transport and wish to see a reduction in the use of private vehicles. Can you think of a road in Bengaluru which is heavily used by Public Transport vehicles? It’s possible that Ballari road supports more public transport vehicles than any other road in Bengaluru.

Most of the Airport Cabs, Vayu Vajra buses, long distance buses to Hyderabad, Telangana and interior Karnataka, all take this road. This road is one of the Big 10 routes and is heavily serviced by BMTC. Private buses from Suburbs also run on this road. Manyata Tech park is one of the largest IT parks in Bengaluru. It has a first of a kind, dedicated public bus pickup service run by BMTC on Vajra buses. Many of those buses take this road.

A flyover on this Ballari road could make Public Transport faster and hence lot more attractive to people who would otherwise use private vehicles for their daily commute.

Do we want Pedestrian Crossings or not?

We all want adequate Pedestrian Crossings, so that we don’t have to risk our life and limbs to cross the major arterial roads. Anyone who has tried crossing Outer Ring Road, which is not elevated, knows what a nightmare it is. While skywalks and subways are coming up in few places, Urban Mobility experts insist that Pedestrians should ideally cross the road at grade level (ground). Isn’t an elevated road, more suitable to realise this dream?

Do we believe in the Big 10 bus system or not?

Big 10 bus services were developed by members of our civil society. They introduced the concept of high frequency services on the 10 major arterial roads of Bengaluru. Four of these lines run on roads which have elevated corridors – Ballari road, Hosur road, Mysuru Road, Tumakuru Road. Interestingly, all the other eight routes cross either Ballari or Hosur roads. It is because Ballari/Hosur roads are the erstwhile National Highway 7. Some civil society members have long-proposed an elevated road on this entire stretch. It is being discussed as the ‘five elevated corridors’ project. This has been declared in budgets too.

Do we want bus lanes or not?

Civil society was recently agitated over the BRTS vs Metro choice on Outer Ring Road. Many of us support having a dedicated bus lane on all major roads. With three lanes on the elevated road, the steel flyover will make a dedicated bus lane on the ground feasible. Why are we opposing this steel flyover then?

Do we want a solution for three badly designed flyovers/underpass or not?

Most civil society activists agree that flyovers move congestion from one junction to the next. Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, apparently said that the flyovers he helped build in Mumbai, didn’t ease traffic. The minister might have referred to the Western Express Highway which vertically divides Mumbai. It is not an elevated road, but instead a series of small flyovers. This model was designed to fail.

When long distance traffic and neighborhood traffic are made to share the same lanes, it affects traffic flow. Instead, we need to separate the neighborhood traffic from long distance traffic, by making the former run on the ground and the latter on elevated roads. This is why the badly designed flyovers at the CBI and BDA office junctions, along with the infamous Cauvery junction magic box, should be demolished and replaced with this elevated road.

Do we want wide footpaths and cycle lanes, or not?

Nandi Hills is a popular destination for Cycling enthusiasts in Bengaluru. Every weekend morning, we can see a stream of cyclists on the Airport Elevated Road. But can you imagine a bicycle lane from Cubbon Park to Hebbal junction? Or can you imagine wide footpaths on the current Ballari Road?

With the road narrowing to two lanes each way at many places, we’ll never win the argument to shrink the motor way to build wide footpaths or cycle lane on Ballari Road. The steel flyover, will move the traffic to the elevated road and make space for footpaths and cycle lanes. Do we want to let go of this opportunity?

Do we want people to appreciate Sankey Tank or not?

Some of us recently protested attempts to hand over land near Sankey Tank, to a private residential project. But can you imagine reaching Sankey Tank during weekday evenings? C V Raman Road (near Sadashivnagar Police Station) and Sankey Road (at Bashyam Circle) are jammed most times of the day. In the evenings, no vehicle can cross these junctions without a 10-minute struggle.

Why is this beautiful area of Bengaluru, a traffic nightmare? It’s because, traffic from National Highway 4 (Tumakuru road) and from heavily populated Malleswaram, Rajaji Nagar, Yeshwantpur and Mathikere, reach the heart of the city using C V Raman Road and Sankey Road. If the steel flyover is built, more right turns can be enabled from Malleswaram onto Ballari Road, providing much needed relief to this area.

We can make this elevated road a success:

Many of the other concerns that we have about the steel flyover project, are largely exaggerations, or can be easily addressed by talking to the government.

A. Trees cut can be compensated.

When the metro underground section was built, many trees in front of Vidhana Soudha were cut. But new trees are being planted now with the expertise of the Horticulture department. BDA has proposed to plant 60,000 trees to compensate the 812 trees estimated to be cut. Why can’t we ensure that 812 of them are planted, in the vicinity of this flyover. Like Veterinary College campus?

B. Aesthetics and Heritage buildings can be preserved, even improved.

When the Promenade on MG Road had to be removed for Metro construction, there were lots of protests. But anyone who visits the new Promenade and the Rangoli Metro center, has no reason to feel bad. Similarly, anyone who has taken the Bengaluru Heritage Walk on MG Road, knows that the Metro line, did no harm to the British era buildings there.

C. Even parks can be built under flyovers.

Civil society in Mumbai came together to build the Nanalal D Mehta garden under the Tulpule Flyover in Matunga. This 600-meter stretch even has a skating place for children. On Sundays, kids’ zones are organised under the flyover. Many of us in Bengaluru have volunteered to beautify pillars under flyovers. Emulating Mumbai to build one or two parks under this steel flyover, is easily achievable.

Government could have communicated better.

Ofcourse, the government has failed to make the case for this Steel Flyover. Its communication has been so poor, that people seem to think the project is being rushed. The reality is, the project was initiated in 2010, tenders floated in 2014-15 and final decision was postponed from June 2016 to September, after Civil Society wanted more consultations. BDA is rightly being criticised for refusing some information via RTI, which already existed on the internet!

Now the discussion has largely shifted away from the merits of the Steel Flyover to other issues like BMPC and BDA vs BMRDA. These discussions are valid and need to be had, but they provide no relief to the people of North Bengaluru, who are suffering the traffic gridlock on Ballari road everyday.

What kind of city do we want to live in?

Finally, what kind of city do we want to live in? A city where a high speed road runs vertically through, and children risk their life to cross it? Or one where fast moving vehicles run on an elevated road, and the ground below is available for civic facilities like pedestrian crossings, wide footpaths, cycle and bus lanes, and road side parks?

Do we want our children to inhale the toxic exhausts from vehicles on jammed roads? Or should vehicles move quickly on elevated roads, leaving our neighborhoods with less air pollution?

An elevated road corridor from Devanahalli to Electronic city will make our neighborhoods safer. This 6.7km steel flyover from Basaveshwara Circle to Hebbal junction, only adds to the 27 Kilometers of the elevated corridor that already exists.

Instead of opposing the Steel Flyover project, we should grab the opportunities provided by this project, to make a Better Bengaluru.

The opinions expressed here are author’s own. Citizen Matters as a news analysis website, makes an attempt to present all sides of the issue, but does not endorse or reject them.

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Steel flyover debate: Let a plan drive the city transport
What Bengaluru can do with 1800 crores
BDA keeps steel flyover on hold after drawing flak from citizens
BDA botches up the steel flyover issue by hiding information

About Balaji Chitra Ganesan 0 Articles
Balaji Chitra Ganesan is techie living in Bengaluru, who was a volunteer for many civic initiatives such as Smart Vote, Corruption saaku movement etc.

14 Comments

  1. Bangalore is seeing its warmest winter in over a century. These kind of stupid projects, which help the car owning elite of Bangalore will only make matters worse. Millions of people living in North Bangalore are important, That is why I am concerned about 800 trees. Someone who has lived in Bangalore all his life would understand the importance of these trees for thee city, the fact that trees were part of the heritage. Great men like Mari Gowda and Nengihaal made the city livable but King George and his cronies are converting it into a gas chamber. I suppose the car owning brigade of Bangalore shall offer refuge to the milllions of Bangaloreans who can’t afford a fan, forget Air Conditioners this summer. Only a brickbound, consumption driven techie who made Bangalore his home after the tech boom would support such ecological disasters.

  2. Bangalore is seeing its warmest winter in over a century. These kind of stupid projects, which help the car owning elite of Bangalore will make only matters worse.
    Millions of people living in North Bangalore are important, That is why I am concerned about 800 trees. Someone who has lived in Bangalore all his life would understand the importance of trees for city, its part of the heritage and great men like Mari Gowda and Nengihaal who made the city livable.
    I suppose the car owning brigade of Bangalore shall offer refuge to the milllions of Bangaloreans who can’t afford a fan, forget Air Conditioners this summer. Only a brickbound, consumption driven techie who made Bangalore his home after the tech move would support such ecological disasters.

  3. Thanks Sanjay for the comments. Please find my clarifications below.

    1. Entry points to flyover

    Upramps from Race course road (comes from Majestic), Sankey road (comes from CDB), Mekhri Circle seem reasonable. As already explained, there are no exits while going towards Hebbal, on purpose. Having too may entries will only slow the elevated lanes. Nevertheless, where do you think there should have been an upramp?

    2. Public transport

    Almost all BMTC buses will use ground lanes. Many long distance buses may also take ground lanes till Mekhri. The purpose of the elevated lanes is to separate long distance traffic from local traffic. Most of the airport buses, many private buses, cabs, ORR bound vehicles can all take the elevated roads.

    Besides, elevated road allows local traffic to make right turns onto Ballari road, which are currently not allowed. This is what is causing traffic jams in Malleswaram. Please see new turns that are possible here: https://twitter.com/Siddaramiah4CM/status/788633340723204096

    3. Busy ground lanes

    Ground lanes will remain busy with slow moving local traffic just like on Hosur road and that is actually good. That is how signals and pedestrian crossings are possible. Currently Ballari road is signal free and has no pedestrian crossings at all, only to keep long distance traffic fast, creating havoc in the neighborhoods.

    5. Esteem mall

    Ideally two lanes of the Hebbal elevated flyover should merge with the elevated airport flyover. BDA does want it. Currently NHAI is opposed to the idea, because ORR is NH7. NHAI built the Airport Elevated road for NH7 traffic coming on ORR and taking right turn at Hebbal Junction. So they are opposed to directly linking Ballari road traffic to their airport flyover, lest ORR vehicles are squeezed into a single lane.

    When PRR becomes a reality, NHAI may even drop NH7 designation for ORR. Most of the truck traffic will go to PRR. At that point, they may be open to directly linking Hebbal elevated lanes with Airport flyover.

    7. Footpaths etc on below lanes

    Yes, they are not part of this DPR. I’m just saying all those will become possible, once the flyover is completed. With so much money being spent on TenderSURE, making Ballari road (atleast till Mekhri circle) is not much of ask. Easily achievable.

    Airport flyover does have pedestrian crossings at grade level. Hosur road has lots of subways which is why there aren’t too many pedestrian crossings. Either police have to ensure people use subways or work on pedestrian crossings.

    All the fights for zebra crossings, wide footpaths, cycles, bus lanes etc still need to be fought. But right now, there’ll be no takers for such demands on Ballari road or any arterial road. Only elevated roads will make such demands even feasible.

  4. Well, I don’t know much about the much-hyped steel flyover. I am against it because all the 3 connecting roads to our apartment are in terrible state. Thin, potholed roads, with lots of traffic. For the significant percentage of our earnings as taxes that we pay, we do not get even anything close to “silicon valley roads”. I am not even talking about water and electricity–all the basic functions of the government. My position is that the government should first fix and maintain the roads in all the outskirts of the city.

  5. I would like to comment in particular on the “trees can be planted elsewhere” argument.

    That fails to take in the actual importance of street trees to road-users, especially those in public transport or taking non-motorised transports.

    How about we do this? Let’s dig up roads and make them unusable for motorists in a particular stretch, and then “transplant” those roads to another area. Would that “compensation” help in the affected area?

    So it is, as well, with trees and their uses on the road.

  6. I want to thank Balaji Ganesan for this article. Though I disagree with a lot of what he has to say for reasons that will be detailed below, the article forced me to pause and think for some time to try and articulate better.

    First, I will state clearly that I am against the steel flyover. The first opposition comes from the fact that there is no holistic planning process and projects like this just spring up and get implemented and it becomes fairly apparent that not too much care went into the planning, in no time. Things seem to be better for a short period if you are a car owning commuter and then it becomes worse. As a pedestrian or as a bus commuter, none of these projects have really helped me.

    So here are my point by point disagreements
    Balaji claims that since the government put out a notification asking for opinions on an airport metro line at the same time as airport flyover, it cannot be a VIP flyover. So, I agree with Balaji that the flyover is not a direct link to the airport, though it is in the general direction. However, the flyover has limited upramps, mosty in the VIP areas and now has a potential toll associated with it. Secondly, BMRCL has only put out a poll for a metro line option to the airport. That does not mean approval or any such thing. So that line of argument is misleading.

    Now, about the second point on public transport. Going by the DPR, BMTC buses are less than 1% of the vehicle count on this road. The KSRTC and other long distance buses do not count as they are not really helping the city commuter. Majority of traffic on this road are cars, two wheelers and autos. Secondly, when you put an elevated road which cannot serve city public transport vehicles, what one is saying to the public is “please use your private vehicles”. The objective from a rational planner who wants to promote public transport would be to make PT options convenient, reliable and fast.

    Third:On pedestrian crossings – The assumption in Balaji’s statement is that the elevated flyover will magically clean up the streets below. Just go an look at the E-City flyover or the Tumkur road elevated road. Also look at the DPR which says that majority of the trip are 0-5 km and after that 6-10 km. What will happen is this: this local traffic has to stay below the flyover. The flyover will attract more car and private transport commuters who want a quick path to eject themselves out of the ring road circle. Below the flyover, which the DPR does not cover will be a mess and it will worsen with time.

    The justification that Big 10 bus systems run on roads with elevated corridors. There are two points. All those elevated corridors are outside the ring road circle… i.e., outside the core city area. Secondly, you know what the elevated corridor did. It screamed to people – “take your car”. I know… I commuted to electronic city for several years. Car always beat the bus under the flyover unless an accident jammed up the elevated expwy.

    Steel flyover will make dedicated bus lane feasible below. My opinion – maybe, maybe not. Only thing blocking dedicated bus lanes there is administrative will. From the DPR traffic data, it is not even clear that there is so much cross city traffic. Secondly, there is no plan for what would happen under the bridge in the DPR. There is even confusion on whether the rbidge will terminate at Hebbal flyover, essentially removing Hebbal flyover for other people. OR, will it terminate 300m before the elevated expressway forming another hell hole. Look at the segment between silkboard and the elevated expressway, or the stretch between the two flyovers at ORR… Devarabeesanahalli and Bellandur for a live simulation.

    Solution for three badly designed flyover/underpass. I agree that those were slapped together without any proper plan and engineering design. The same lot BTW is putting this flyover plan together, except that :L7T will build the flyover which is mysteriously subcontracted out to Nagarjuna or somebody… I am not clear on the details there.

    Wide footpaths/cycle lane: Is there another DPR that I am missing?

    I will say this again. I am not against cutting a few trees or spending money and I am for a clean city, less pollution, less traffic, space for children to play, safe roads for pedestrians and cyclists and all that stuff Balaji is for as well. However, before trees are cut and money is spent, there needs to be an overall plan, there needs to be careful deliberation, money should be spent to get maximum value or at least good value, there needs to be confidence built in the public that there is an overall vision and how a plan is in place to execute the vision. Can Balaji really say, with all the announcements on toll and extending beyond Hebbal flyover and discrepancies in the reports on number of trees and this undue haste and pending land acuisition from air force that this is only “poor communication” by the government? I think we fundamentally disagree on the outcome once this flyover comes. The available data on record DPR, past examples only say one thing, your projections have some fond hopes mixed into them. That vision may not come true.

  7. There was a comment on Praja by Murali sir, which he posted in response to this article. I have replied there and posting them here as well.

    ***

    Thanks Murali sir for taking the time to respond to my article. Please find my rejoinder.

    >> My objections are more to the whole approach than this steel bridge by itself. Quite as Kiran Mazumdar Shah has now stated, these piecemeal approaches have to go and we have to have more holistic solutions.

    I believe Ms. Shah herself supports elevated corridors. Any long term Mobility plan with such corridors I believe will include this elevated section between Chalukya and Hebbal. Lets not wait for Best to stop the Good. Further, I’m slightly disappointed that BBPAG members (BBPAG was formed in May 2016) are making adverse comments about a project for which funds were allocated by the Karnataka Assembly in the 2014-15 budget. Page 92, section 328 unambiguously says:

    328. Construction of Elevated Corridor from Basaveshwara Circle (Chalukya Circle) to Hebbal Junction at a cost of Rs. 1100 crore will be taken up.

    Its under BDA line items.

    http://www.finance.kar.nic.in/bud2014/bseng14.pdf

    I leave it to the wisdom of the Praja if civil society members should ask govt to second guess the Karnataka Assembly, formed by the will of the Praja.

    >> Towards that end, we have to first decide, whether we want Bengaluru to develop likeHouston/ LA (largely car-centric – Mr Vivek Menon’s dream, perhaps), or like London/ New York/ Singapore (largely public transport-centric).

    I don’t believe its a choice. We have to live in reality. Bengaluru is India’s 3rd largest metropolitan area, with people having decent disposable income. Number of private vehicles are going to increase, no matter what some people wish. Govt has to address reality rather than wishful thinking. Still, I lived in Los Angeles for two years and used Rapid (on Wilshire) and Santa Monica Blue bus for office commute. I can assure you, Bengaluru is no way as bad as LA and it never will be.

    We should aim to be Paris/NYC?London in 20 years time. But in the next 20 years, we should try to be Phoenix/Kualalumpur. Please see how I10 and I17 along with ring roads, make Phoenix the mirror of Bengaluru. All freeway criss cross the city and are elevated or below surface. It also has a long tunnel. I wish we can build a tunnel from Chalukya to Richmond road, but I don’t think we can afford. Take a look at Kualalumpur too.

    >> Then comes the matter of genuine public consultation. If the government is convinced of the merits of its proposal, where’s the problem in placing it before the public and getting the buy-in? We are now told that the government first came up with this “steel flyover” proposal as far back as in 2010. So, why did it keep all the info on it under wraps all along? Even to queries under RTI, why was it being evasive?

    This is completely false and only shows the praja as lazy. This flyover has been common knowledge to anyone following news. As linked above, its on the 2014-15 budget speech itself with 1100 crore allocated. If Praja is not paying attention to 1100 crore spending, what to say? All tender documents have completely public on govt e-procurement website. You can now read every document here: http://bangalore.citizenmatters.in/articles/bda-steel-flyover-tender-documents Expecting BDA to be great at communication is too much. They are getting better after this controversy. https://twitter.com/BDABLR/with_replies

    >> Only after some details were made public (under pressure from the people), did it show up that one of the biggest bottlenecks along the stretch, viz the Hebbal junction, was not covered under the scope of the flyover, and then the government had to go back to the drawing boards to include that too.

    This is again totally unfair criticism. BDA had planned solutions for Hebbal Junction long before the steel flyover approval. This should have been obvious to anyone reading newspapers. 1. Underpass on ORR under Hebbal Flyover, 2. Demolishing slip road towards Nagawara and making that traffic go left and take the underpass. 3. New flyover from Nagawars side to Airport side descending at Esteem mall. 4. Extra lane on the main carriageway of the flyover. There were all planned long ago and the work was inaugurated by Bengaluru Development Minister in May 2016. http://www.deccanherald.com/content/544027/work-upgrading-hebbal-flyover-begins.html

    All along the plan was to let Steel Flyover traffic descend before Hebbal junction and fix the latter as above. Now responding to public suggestions, BDA has even provided a solution to integrate steel flyover with Hebbal flyover. This only a plan btw. Not DPR. Decision rests with Govt. BDA is doing its job well on this instance. http://bdabangalore.org/INTEGRATION%20PLAN%20(17-10-2016).pdf

    >> Likewise, there are many other short-comings, particularly with regard to accesses along the way, that Shree and others have pointed out. So, is the govt going to be looking at all of them too? What happens to the overall costs then?

    I have replied to Shree’s comments after comments problem was fixed. Please see: http://bangalore.citizenmatters.in/articles/bengaluru-steel-flyover-advantages According to me, no changes are needed to address Shree’s concerns.

    >> Also, the costs of doing up the road below the flyover, after the main work is completed, is very likely to have been omitted, in order to project a lower cost, leading to such works remaining undone, quite as we have been seeing repeatedly.

    This seems true. I fully agree. Frankly this is the only intelligent objection I have heard in the entire controversy. Murali sir, you are smart 🙂

    >> Steel vs Concrete

    I have no hard position on steel vs concrete. If BDA believes Steel Flyover is possible, I don’t want to suspect their claims. I don’t have the expertise either. BDA built modern Bengaluru! Lets give them that. I heard concerns about tonnage and cost esclation because of piers also being steel. I would also like to know more and see BDA respond to such criticism.

    >> Trees

    Please. New trees can be planted. Lets protest to plant any tree, any number, any where as compensation. Millions of people in North Bengaluru are lot more important than 800 trees.

    >> Besides, is it going to end with this flyover? There’s already the talk of North-South/ East-West Corridors, and what have you. That’s where I believe we need to get our vision stated clearly first before venturing out onto such ultra-mega projects.

    I fully support the 5 elevated corridors projects. Atleast two prominent BBPAG members including Ms. Kiran Shaw support this too. Every benefit that I have listed in my article (bicycle lane, zebra crossing, bus lane, wide footpaths, safe neighborhood, less air pollution), all become possible only with elevated roads. Whether in Ballari road or elsewhere. We’ll still need to push for them (like in Hosur road now), but thats the job of the Praja. Eternal vigilance is the price of Liberty.

    ***

    Finally, a personal note to Murali sir:

    I’m planning to write another article: “Liberal solutions for Bengaluru’s Mobility problems”. This will include criticism of activists who are asking State govt to fund part of Namma Railu, instead of the Union govt which borrows 8 lakh crores from LIC to do regular maintanence works, runs Air India and spends on Bullet trains. Till then, I request you to please consider my replies and not dismiss them out of hand. Liberals can do much better than promoting the worst anarchist forms of protests and bullying of elected governments, by usual suspects. Thanks.

  8. Thanks Shree for the comment. Please find my responses below.

    >> My personal questions: 1) You make it sound so rosy – but why then does the grade level traffic below existing flyovers in the city crawl, and flyovers have been a failure? Not only in the city but everywhere in the world. Why should traffic planning be providing incentives to car users?

    Firstly it is ok for the traffic below the elevated corridor to crawl. Infact it should ideally be slow moving traffic which can be controlled with signals for pedestrian crossings. The whole point of my post is to make neighborhoods safe by moving fast moving vehicles to the elevated lanes. A ideal city is one where a vehicle stops to yield to a pedestrian crossing the road, even if the pedestrian is jay walking.

    Having said that, I don’t feel there is too much congestion on roads with elevated roads. The flow is stopped at signals to allow criss crossing traffic, which as I argue is good.

    2) If you login to Google maps with live traffic status on, you will see red marks everywhere, and more so in case of our own Silk Board, Kadubeesanahalli Area, KR Puram and many other stretches of ORR, and within the city such as Sony Signal, Mantri Mall etc. Hebbal status is better than those stretches, so why should this be prioritised over that?

    This is the “best” argument for private vehicles! Strangely this argument is made by one of the organisers of the protests. https://twitter.com/tarauk/status/788617442985709569

    The city should not try to ease traffic fixing areas by descending order of congestion. This congestion is caused predominantly by private vehicles in the first place. As understood from Big 10, we need to focus on direction oriented traffic and promote public transport on those routes. This is why I believe all roads that carry National Highway traffic into the city should be elevated or atleast grade separated. Mysuru Road, Hosur Road, Ballari Road, Tumkuru Road all have partial elevated corridors. We need to complete rest of the portions and created elevated lanes on Old Madras Road as well. I fully agree with some Civil Society activists who propose 5 elevated corridors. This steel flyover is a good step in the direction.

    It also helps, that Ballari road flyover has some future significance. City is expected to grow to the north with new BDA layouts in the North-West and maturing of business parks around the airport.

    Finally, Ballari road is the gateway for most people of Karnataka to enter their state capital. The state I believe has an obligation to provide better infra to public transport vehicles coming from say Ballari or Bidar, than fixing nook and crannies flooded with private vehicles in Bellandur.

    3) In case of Hebbal, If you look closely, the INCOMING traffic faces bottleneck, and always in red. Outgoing is comparatively green. It’s a clear pattern – you can check Google Earth and Google map for proof. Do you see anything specific in the DPR that has addressed this issue?

    Ofcourse it does. The incoming traffic is provided lots of exits to disperse it quickly into the city. There is no upramp towards city at Mekhri towards city but there is one away from the city.

    I take this road everytime I go to office. The reason its difficult for incoming traffic (towards city), is the constant merging of local traffic, at Hebbal junction itself (ORR), bus stand where Hebbal flyover descends, disastrous small flyovers at CBI which mixes local traffic with long distance, the ridiculous U turn towards Sanjay nagar, the perennially clogged Mekhi circle ramp. The only way we can fix this is by separating local traffic and through traffic with elevated lanes.

    4) When there is no change in grade level traffic, how will the ramp from Vasanthnagar area solve the issue? Will removing the BDA magicbox make a big difference to surface level traffic coming from Vasanthnagar area to Guttahalli area?

    It will. To clarify down ramp is TO Vasanthnagar and not from. Currently there is no right turn from Ballari road to Guttahalli. The previous turn is at Mekhri. So lot of vehicles go towards Vasanthnagar and take u turn. Elevated road will provide lot of right turns towards Malleswaram for R T Nagar traffic too.

    Besides BDA office magic box is too narrow that, even simply demolishing it and replacing with a signal may improve traffic flow.

    5) When there’s no down ramp for the traffic coming from Chalukya circle side, none of the neighbourhoods benefit. Why should they be supporting it?

    No, this is done on purpose. If local traffic is allowed to take Elevated road, we’ll have two congested roads instead of one. Elevated road does allow entry to local traffic in either directions. From Hebbala side also, there are only exits. Locals should be supporting it because they are currently being punished for the benefit of mostly South Bengaluru. Ballari road is a signal free road to benefit long distance traffic. Locals are allowed only two right turns towards the city (Mekhri, Cauvery). Even asked to go in opposite direction and make U-turns (at CBI and recently at Cauvery). Believe me, locals will rejoice when they are finally rid of the fast moving traffic from South Bengaluru!

    6) Where will KIAL buses travel? Will they take the flyover or the surface level? If it is flyover, what is the alternative for someone who uses KIAL-7 from HSR layout to Airport as mode or transport from HSR to Guttahalli, from where s/he can walk home in Malleshwaram?

    Nearly half the KIAL buses will take flyover at Chalukya. Another quarter will take at Mekhri. Few like KIAL9 which go to Majestic will be on the below road all the way to the airport (they don’t take Airport flyover even now).

    When this flyover is done, there should be no need to use Airport buses to go Malleshwaram. Any bus from Majestic should have faster running time. Or you can take KIAL buses that go elevated only at Mekhri. BMTC will likely run elevated services to Hebbala. There are few such services to E-city now from Majestic.

    But do you really need to take bus all the way? Come April, you can take Metro to Mantri, initially from Jayanagar and later from Hosur road itself!

    >> There are many users who travel in Airport buses to other destinations than airport… When this doesn’t improve the quality of life for neighbourhood, but causes loss of trees etc, why should this project be supported by the people in the neighbourhood?

    The same answer as above applies. Using Airport buses is an indication that people want faster public transport buses. When we have elevated corridors, ‘less stop service’, ‘flyover service’ etc are possible. Frankly, people who oppose providing relief to North-Bengaluru residents because they live elsewhere (say JP Nagar), and care more for few trees (which can be replaced) over fellow Bengalureans, are not good citizens. Civil society activists should stop courting them.

  9. Hi Vaidya,

    Thanks for the comment. Please find my replies below.

    >> 1. The road will be tolled. Not exactly easy access or access for everyone.

    People who support public transport should also support tolls. This makes public transport cheaper (atleast buses) and may reduce vehicles on the road. The lanes below are not tolled. Elevated lanes meant for long distance vehicles might be tolled, which is the case on most national highways.

    >> 2. We have elevated roads at multiple places. Electronic City, KIAL. Ever seen a park or easy way for pedestrian crossings under them?

    Electronic City flyover is a bad example. It does not have exits except at E-city. Atleast there should have been integration with NICE road, if not more exits at Kudlu gate etc. Hosur road has a series of pedestrian subways but they are not used. Vindicates my point that Pedestrian crossing should be zebra on grade level.

    KIAL road below flyover does have Zebra crossings at a number of places and people do use them. KIAL road also has lots of exits (where the road descends).

    >> 3. 60,000 ornamental plants. BMRCL also promised to replant. There hasn’t been any news on when and where and if they did it.

    I have seen news report on new trees planted in front of Vidhana Soudha. But then you could argue its “VIP” area. In general, I feel road side trees only have aesthetic value and not much ecological value. So planting trees in new layouts, especially parks in those layouts, is more beneficial than road side trees. In the article above, I have suggested putting pressure on BDA to plant them in Veterinary College campus next to this steel flyover. And if possible on private Palace ground land.

    >> 4. For heritage buildings, they have made it clear that they will be affected.

    No, I don’t think building themselves are going to be affected. The compound wall of some needs to be moved. BDA says such walls will be rebuilt like the old ones. This is standard procedure everywhere and should not be difficult.

    >> 5. When people say invest that money in public transport, it is not just on that corridor, although the spin has become like that.

    Yes I understand. Its for all over the city. But if we are not investing in road infrastructure to promote public transport on Ballari road, I’m not sure if their claims are intelligent or just emotional. Whole big 10 system is to import transport on arterial roads and make people come to the nearest spoke in the wheel.

    >> 6. The elevated road starts at the centre of the city. People are ok with having them outside as in Electronic City or the AP road one. Surely people can have a say on what they want in the city center?

    This only seems an aesthetic argument. Whole Big 10 system bring buses on 10 arterial roads to MG road. Two metro interchange stations are going to come here. A long distance road entry, few kilometers from such public transport stations makes even more sense than having one beyond ORR.

    Besides, in my argument, I urge extending this flyover down to Silk Board via Hosur road. So the whole city won’t have to converge at Chalukya to go to airport. Many Civil Society members, including those in Vision Group support such elevated corridors.

    >> 7. There were objections earlier too. It is clearly a cash cow for both governments.

    Please see answer 8 below.

    >> 8. 1800 Cr is a lot of money. Flyover constructions near Doddanekundi have stopped due to lack of funds. These are just minor concrete flyovers. People want their tax money spent better.

    1800 crores is not lot of money. Metro cost is 30,000 crores already. Railways is spending 8,00,000,00,00,000 borrowed from LIC and still wont spend a penny on Commuter Rail which every activist in Blr seems to want. Thats 8 lakh crores written out with zeros! If we start suspecting corruption everywhere, without any proof of wrongdoing, no government can function. With so much scrutiny of this project, whatever ‘chance’ of corruption there was, has only reduced.

    People don’t realize the terrible economic costs of traffic jams. Lets do a back of the envelope calculation right now. 5 lakh people wasting 10 minutes on Ballari road every weekday. Even at minimum wage, it’ll be 60 crores every year. But at average salary, it could easily be a significant chunk of 1800 crore. What I mean is, Ballari road traffic jams cost 1800 crore loss to Bengaluru economy every few years. This is just the sunk cost of people’s time. Not even calculating the opportunity cost. Spending 1800 crores is nothing to stem such a loss. We need to have Economists explaining these things to people who are not able to make such connections.

    >> 9. Metro route alignment for Airport is not completed yet. This road is pushing ahead despite that. This pretty much rules out the city centre approach.

    This road is not meant for airport as already explained. Airport Metro line was always part of Phase 2/3. Besides Airport has lot of public transport options. No need to worry about such a tiny population when lakhs of people are struggling to reach North Bengaluru from rest of the city.

    >> 10. Traffic is a nightmare because there are too many vehicles and too many people using their cars. It is not going to reduce.

    Party agree. Some activists keep saying if all others stop using cars, I’ll be able to take the bus. Yea, good luck with that! Hence we need to built infra for current traffic reality. However, cities like NYC, Paris, London have largely succeeded to a predominantly public transport system. With elevated road corridors and metro, we can eventually get there.

    >> 11. By VIPs they don’t mean just politicians. Just the elite. Those with cars who want to go to the airport. Buses won’t take it, as you yourself said. Also, there are no bus priority lanes anywhere, not even under Elec City.

    Most people who can afford, do take the airport cabs, which are public transport. They already do despite the traffic. Future is in electric self driving cars, which will be predominantly taxis. But thats a while away.

    Bus lanes are possible only by moving most of the other traffic to elevated roads. Now people form ‘extra’ lanes. Asking them to vacate left lane is never going to work.

    >> 12. There is no mobility plan from BDA.

    This makes no sense. BDA produces Bengaluru Master plan. It does have transport related plans, thought its not the primary focus. We should demand that mobility aspect is fully addressed in the Master Plan and not leave that as just land use plan. Anyway, planning layouts and malls, without think of mobility is what causing jams in the first place.

    >> As many have pointed out, you’ll only be shifting the traffic to other points. Having 4 lanes merge to 2 and then to 4. You must’ve seen the merger of 6 lanes to 4 at Hebbal.

    Not sure I understand this. Please see the Hebbal junction plan https://twitter.com/Siddaramiah4CM/status/788039733507010560

    If you are saying the elevated road has a down ramp before Hebbal junction as well, then its great!

  10. My personal questions:

    1) You make it sound so rosy – but why then does the grade level traffic below existing flyovers in the city crawl, and flyovers have been a failure? Not only in the city but everywhere in the world. Why should traffic planning be providing incentives to car users?

    2) If you login to Google maps with live traffic status on, you will see red marks everywhere, and more so in case of our own Silk Board, Kadubeesanahalli Area, KR Puram and many other stretches of ORR, and within the city such as Sony Signal, Mantri Mall etc. Hebbal status is better than those stretches, so why should this be prioritised over that?

    3) In case of Hebbal, If you look closely, the INCOMING traffic faces bottleneck, and always in red. Outgoing is comparatively green. It’s a clear pattern – you can check Google Earth and Google map for proof. Do you see anything specific in the DPR that has addressed this issue?

    4) When there is no change in grade level traffic, how will the ramp from Vasanthnagar area solve the issue? Will removing the BDA magicbox make a big difference to surface level traffic coming from Vasanthnagar area to Guttahalli area?

    5) When there’s no down ramp for the traffic coming from Chalukya circle side, none of the neighbourhoods benefit. Why should they be supporting it?

    6) Where will KIAL buses travel? Will they take the flyover or the surface level? If it is flyover, what is the alternative for someone who uses KIAL-7 from HSR layout to Airport as mode or transport from HSR to Guttahalli, from where s/he can walk home in Malleshwaram? There are many users who travel in Airport buses to other destinations than airport…

    When this doesn’t improve the quality of life for neighbourhood, but causes loss of trees etc, why should this project be supported by the people in the neighbourhood?

  11. No, totally wrong! Civil Society is in the right place, thankfully, and better informed…

    The problem is really simple: 2 badly planned flyovers. Solution is also simple: replan and reconstruct those two faulty flyovers.
    [Editor: Comment edited to suit our comments policy]

  12. In an ideal world, yes, we probably can solve traffic problems correctly and elevated roads can be part of the plan at places. But we live and die with BDA and their implementations every day. We are only responding to that.

  13. 7. There were objections earlier too. It is clearly a cash cow for both governments.
    8. 1800 Cr is a lot of money. Flyover constructions near Doddanekundi have stopped due to lack of funds. These are just minor concrete flyovers. People want their tax money spent better.
    9. Metro route alignment for Airport is not completed yet. This road is pushing ahead despite that. This pretty much rules out the city centre approach.
    10. Traffic is a nightmare because there are too many vehicles and too many people using their cars. It is not going to reduce.
    11. By VIPs they don’t mean just politicians. Just the elite. Those with cars who want to go to the airport. Buses won’t take it, as you yourself said. Also, there are no bus priority lanes anywhere, not even under Elec City.
    12. There is no mobility plan from BDA. As many have pointed out, you’ll only be shifting the traffic to other points. Having 4 lanes merge to 2 and then to 4. You must’ve seen the merger of 6 lanes to 4 at Hebbal.

  14. A few points:
    1. The road will be tolled. Not exactly easy access or access for everyone.
    2. We have elevated roads at multiple places. Electronic City, KIAL. Ever seen a park or easy way for pedestrian crossings under them?
    3. 60,000 ornamental plants. BMRCL also promised to replant. There hasn’t been any news on when and where and if they did it.
    4. For heritage buildings, they have made it clear that they will be affected.
    5. When people say invest that money in public transport, it is not just on that corridor, although the spin has become like that.
    6. The elevated road starts at the centre of the city. People are ok with having them outside as in Electronic City or the AP road one. Surely people can have a say on what they want in the city center?

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