Sarjapur Road underpass: Citizens say the ill-conceived project will worsen traffic

CITIZEN OPPOSITION TO BBMP PROJECT

Road with vehicles moving fast. Divider on the right side.
Sarjapur Road at the Harlur Road junction. Traffic is smooth with the intersection blocked. However, lack of pedestrian crossing is a major issue. One small section has been widened in preparation for the underpass work. The Sarjapur Road widening project itself is held up due to land acquisition issues. Pic: Meera K

BBMP is constructing an underpass at Sarjapura Road at Harlur Road junction, much against local residents’ objections. Despite numerous attempts to engage with BBMP, the authorities are insisting on going ahead with this project. This insistence is surprising even as BBMP itself has recently talked about rejecting underpass solutions.

Announced in 2016-17, the project to construct an underpass on Sarjapura Road at Harlur Road Junction was estimated to cost Rs 23 crores. While the proposal was based on the situation back in 2016-17, the ground situation has changed now with traffic management measures being taken, as well as a post-pandemic change in work patterns.

Our opposition to the project is based on the fact that there is no current traffic issue in that area that this project can solve. In fact, we believe this design will make traffic worse. What’s more, this underpass is right in the way of the Sarjapur Metro line!


Read more: A sustainable plan to solve traffic woes at Iblur Junction – Citizen Matters, Bengaluru


Underpass solution for a non-existent problem can make things worse

The underpass is being built at a location where there is “no junction”- the T-junction itself has been blocked for the past five years by Bangalore Traffic Police as a measure to reduce the junction bottleneck. They routed the traffic through a pair of nearby U-turns. The arrangement has been working smoothly for the last 5 years.

The proposed underpass at Harlur junction is less than 500 metres from the true choke point of Iblur junction where Sarjapura Road intersects with Outer Ring Road — any intervention at Harlur junction via piecemeal approach will do nothing to address the root cause of the traffic congestion, i.e. Iblur junction. Already, the traffic snarls back up a kilometre or more during peak hours. This project will do nothing to address this true bottle-neck, so it is nothing but a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Google map of real time traffic on a weekday morning
Google map of real time traffic on a weekday morning – red lines show the traffic congestion. This shows the traffic backup from Iblur down Sarjapur Road and the sub-arterial roads. Graphic: Ramkumar S

When the underpass comes to grade (ground) just before the traffic light of Iblur junction, vehicles will have to wait at the bottom of the underpass for the light to go green, waiting as much as 90 seconds on average.

Given the known drainage issues in underpass design in Bengaluru, this could put vehicles in severe danger in rainy situations. It would also create serious criss-cross dangerous patterns at Iblur junction traffic light, as vehicles coming from the slip road would intersect haphazardly with vehicles coming up to grade on the underpass.

Twitter screenshot
Mahadevapura MLA Arvind Limbavali tweeting about the launch of the Harlur underpass project in 2020. Pic: Twitter screenshot

Read more: Mahadevapura citizens to protest Friday against “filth, traffic jams and pollution”, demand MP, MLA, corporators resign


Underpass right in the way of the upcoming Sarjapur Road Metro line

The proposed underpass at Harlur junction is in conflict with the upcoming Sarjapura Road Metro line, which has been recently commissioned. This in turn could lead to a Jayadeva flyover-style demolition — causing loss of taxpayer money and needless inconvenience to commuters.

A petition has been initiated calling upon BBMP to revisit the plan. Click here to sign: www.change.org/p/please-stop-and-revisit-the-underpass-work-at-harlur-road-sarjapur-road-junction

The real issues that need urgent attention

BBMP has hardly made any attempt to even look at pedestrian mobility in this key corridor- BMRCL has in contrast, added pedestrian mobility plans to get to Iblur metro station from Sarjapur road, even prior to the commissioning of the Sarjapura Road Metro line. This underpass could thwart pedestrian spaces too in the process.

Last, but not least, there has been no proper public consultation in the consideration of this project. It appears to be serving a narrow spectrum of interests, rather than catering to the broader section of commuters on Sarjapur Road, Harlur Road and Kasavanahalli Road trying to get into and out of ORR.

Given this background, we demand that:

  • BBMP immediately halt construction for the proposed underpass at Harlur junction of Sarjapura road.
  • BBMP explores ways to address the congestion at the true bottleneck of the major road interchange of ORR and Sarjapura road, less than 500 metres away at Iblur junction, exploring all holistic designs for managing the flow.
  • BBMP makes a sincere attempt to address the pedestrian crossing issues at the Kaikondrahalli lake – Iblur junction corridor.
  • BBMP engages in a transparent fashion with all stakeholders, including BMRCL, DULT, and citizen groups in the neighbourhood.
Map of Iblur junction
A citizen solution for Iblur traffic issue. Graphic: Mukund Kumar

[This article is based on a Press Release from the Iblur Environment Trust and published with minimal edits. This note represents the view of local citizen groups, including Bellandur Development Forum (BDEV), Bellandur Forum (BF), Iblur Environs Trust (IBENT), Kasavanahalli Development Forum (KDF) representing residents from Outer Ring Road-Bellandur, Sarjapur Road, Iblur, Haralur, Kasavanahalli, Halanayakanahalli, Devarabeesanahalli, Bellandur, Kaikondrahalli, Chikkanayakanahalli, Doddakanneli and Carmelaram.]

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About Mukund Kumar 8 Articles
Mukund is a data scientist with a passion for algorithms. He is also the Managing Trustee of Iblur Environs Trust (IBENT), and has been closely involved in working with various government bodies on urban sustainability.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for highlighting. Hope authorities come to their senses and drop the underpass project.

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