The Agara and Iblur junction flyover project kick-started in October 2008 and is scheduled to be completed in a span of 18 months.
The project includes three flyovers – two at Agara and one at Iblur. Dedicated bus lanes and grade level roads are also part of the project. BDA officials say that this project is to ease traffic between Iblur and Agara junctions, and also part of the BDA’s dream project of making Outer Ring Road signal-free. The combined cost of the project is Rs. 93.94 crores.
Like any project, this one has its own set of problems, leaving the common man worried. Residents of the nearby HSR Layout and commuters who use that section of the Outer Ring Road (ORR) are apprehensive about the outcome of the project and are already dreading the traffic nightmares during construction. The narrowed roads, construction material spilling on to the street and no proper traffic management – these are only some of the complaints that have been voiced.
Some say that the flyovers aren’t necessary; others say that the project is only going to end up being a big mess. Raghu, an autodriver, says, “This will help solve the traffic problem”. But his friend, Sudhakar disagrees, saying the flyover isn’t needed and it’s the traffic police who need to do a better job of manning the traffic at the Agara junction.
Like other previous projects, many believe that it is going to be hell to commute through this route during the construction work. Brigadier RS Murthy, President, HSR Sector 2 Resident’s Association, says that the BDA will block all routes to HSR Layout from Agara junction, adding, “This has happened before when they were constructing the flyover at the Silk Board junction. It’s going to be a bottleneck. How will HSR Layout residents go home from ORR? Has the BDA addressed all these issues before they began construction?” Another resident Hiramath says, “The traffic here is chaotic. They are going to end up making a mess out of it.”
But BDA officials say there will not be any inconvenience during the construction work. Assistant Executive Engineer, Prem Kumar says, “Traffic won’t be affected. Barricading has been done. And we are using machinery like royal rig to speed up the work.” Reducing the lane width, removal of the central median and bringing down trees – these are some of the measures taken to help ‘ease’ traffic here.
Commuters like Kailash say that there will definitely be a problem during the project work. A Channakeshava, Secretary, HSR Sector 2 Resident’s Association, says, “There is absolutely no design or plan idea. How will the HSR residents get home once the flyover is built?” Prem Kumar says that the project has been designed keeping in mind drains, pavement and even landscaping.
It’s not just the commuters and nearby residents who are bearing the brunt of the project, it’s the trees too. At least 189 trees are being felled (depending on the age of the tree) or transplanted for this project. With the Lok Adalat’s recent ruling that trees cannot be cut without prior sanction from them, Prem Kumar says the forest department has got the necessary permissions from the High Power Committee of the Lok Adalat to chop or transplant the trees according to the space required for the project.
Brig. Murthy opines that eventually all the construction material will get dumped in the nearby Agara Lake. “Why is there a need to build this flyover? First clear those unauthorised vendors at the Agara junction. And where will pedestrians walk? There is no pavement at all. The BDA has to look into all of this.” Resident Hema Venkataramana says that it is the speed of work that is important. “Traffic at the Central Silk Board junction is bad, this flyover will help but it needs to be done properly and should not add to the chaos”, she says.
As per the Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure Development (ABIDe) Task Force recommendations, Sarjapur Road is one of the ten ORR junctions marked for improvement. Bus bays, shelters and footpaths have been planned. Also, wherever available, service roads along ORR are to be completed. Priority (not dedicated) bus lanes to be marked on all these ten routes for faster movement of public transport. ABIDe recommendations also says that the path between ORR should be made into a six-lane, signal-free and junction-free pathway.
BDA has revealed no concrete plans for alternate traffic management during the project work. As the public debates about whether the project will help them travel faster or only add to their already-existing traffic woes, BDA continues the work in full swing.