It’s no misnomer that Bengaluru is the Silicon Valley of India. Our daily commute around Marathahalli junction can deposit small quantities of raw materials on our body that can build up to ingredients in the manufacturing process of a semiconductor. Maybe, because of this, people working in the IT corridor exhibit some semiconductor-like properties in their work communication – “Stuck in traffic”, “In late today”, “Leaving early”, “Work from home” etc. Does this sound familiar?
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Marathahalli junction is among the many knotted intersections that connect to the city’s IT hub along ORR (Outer Ring Road). The bridge here was built to cross a short distance, but only adds to our daily commute time. According to ORRCA (Outer Ring Road Companies Association), nearly a million people (or about 10% of Bengaluru’s population) are employed in offices along the 17-km stretch of ORR between Silk Board and KR Puram.
As the city – and its traffic jams – are gradually returning to normal post COVID-19 lockdown, I suggest an alternate plan to regulate traffic at Marathahalli bridge and hopefully reduce congestion. In this article, I explore whether minor alterations to traffic flow, coupled with enforcement of lane discipline, can help ease our commute woes at this junction.
What could be an immediate solution?
Long-term residents of this area attribute the snarled-up traffic to exponential growth of the city, increase in motor vehicles, migration, poor quality of roads, narrow lanes and so on. While these could be true to an extent, it’s unlikely that any of these variables would change even in the long term.
What we could do instead is to plan our commute, educate and enforce lane discipline, and make some adjustments to the existing road infrastructure. At Marathahalli junction, an adjustment could be to introduce a cloverleaf interchange.
Cloverleaf interchange is a mechanism in which motor vehicles can merge or exit from highways using ramp lanes (or service roads as we say in Bengaluru) without having to criss-cross oncoming traffic. These kinds of traffic route bridges are fairly common in India and many developed countries.
Existing traffic flow
Below is a schematic of Marathahalli Bridge as seen in OpenStreetMap; arrows indicate the direction of traffic.
As seen in the picture above,
- Traffic at the bridge that’s flowing from HAL airport side cannot easily drive south to the ORR stretch that leads to Sarjapur road. They have to go further down the bridge towards Varthur Road and then make a U-turn about 1 km away, blocking traffic on either side.
- Similarly, traffic over the bridge that’s coming from Varthur road can’t easily go towards KR Puram side. These vehicles will have to first go towards HAL side, and then take a U-turn to get down to ORR and then on to KR Puram side.
To set up the cloverleaf exchange, only two signals need to be introduced on the bridge, as shown below. With this, vehicles from both Varthur and HAL directions can move on to service roads (which are currently one-way roads in the opposite directions), and then on to ORR.
- From Varthur Road to ORR (KR Puram side)
The new traffic signal is proposed at the intersection of the bridge and service road. With this, vehicles coming from Varthur side can use the ORR service road, and then move on to the ORR stretch towards KR Puram. This could improve the speed of vehicles on ORR, and improve the capacity handling of the service roads.
- From HAL Road to ORR (towards Sarjapur Road)
Similarly, another traffic signal can be introduced on the opposite side, for vehicles coming from HAL side. Here too, the vehicles can move on to the ORR service road, and then to the ORR stretch leading towards Sarjapur Road.
Benefit for vehicles on ORR service roads too
Vehicles that get on to the service road from ORR would benefit from this model too. With the new traffic signal on the bridge, they could possibly take U-turns to the parallel service road (as indicated below).
This would streamline the traffic flow from one service road to the other, and reduce the risk of accidents. Since nearly 70% of commuters would be using two-wheelers, allocating a stretch of space at the signal for two-wheelers would ensure their safety while enabling other motor vehicles to move quickly when the traffic light turns green.
Here’s what the changed scenario would look like:
Other factors that could improve traffic flow
- Bus stops at the intersection of the bridge could be moved to reduce footfall over the bridge.
- Providing footpaths could reduce the number of people walking on the streets, thereby ensuring smooth flow of traffic.
- Restricting the flow of public vehicles on the service roads during peak hours.
[Disclaimer: This article is a citizen contribution. The views expressed here are those of the individual writer(s) and do not reflect the position of Citizen Matters.]