CHENNAI: People going from Pallavaram to Kolapakkam thank their stars every time they manage to cross the precarious small bridge made of stone slabs near Cowl bazaar. The structure, which is next to the busy State Highways road near Pallavaram, is in desperate need of attention. If it is not repaired early, the consequences could be disastrous, residents fear.
A variety of vehicles, including school vans and loaded trucks, cross the poorly-maintained bridge daily. “This is the easiest route to connect to the highways to reach Chennai,” said Manimaran K, a fruit vendor who uses the bridge daily. “The other route is almost 20 km long and choked with vehicles.”
The bridge is the link between Pallavaram and areas around Kolapakkam. There are more than four main schools at Kolapakkam and Gerugampakkam and two or more schools at Pallavaram. People from both sides use this bridge for commuting.
The situation is so bad that pillion riders and those travelling in autos, get down and walk across the damaged area for safety. The Adyar river flows through Cowl bazaar separating Pallavaram and other areas, which fall under Alandur constituency. “Water often overflows on the bridge making it slippery,” said S Karthikeyan, who uses the bridge to go to office daily. “Also, with the stone slabs damaged, the bridge is very dangerous for use.”
There are potholes on the bridge and the place is an example of negligence. The bridge can accommodate only one truck at a time and others have to wait and carefully navigate their way through. “We often feel like we are riding on a rope,” said Kayalvizhi. “I am scared to take my mother with me because of the potholes.”
Pre-monsoon showers have further damaged the bridge, residents say. “During the last monsoon, we were not able to trace the bridge,” said an auto driver. “It was completely submerged.”
When Express visited the place, a TATA Ace mini truck was parked by the side of the bridge and was under repair. It was later learnt the van’s wheel got stuck in the mud on the bridge which created a crater that damaged the tyre. The vehicle was moved to the side of the bridge by the public, the driver said.
“Only when someone dies will government officials take action,” lamented a teacher of Lalaji Memorial School which is on the other side of the bridge at Kolapakkam. However, officials said they were aware of the situation and were waiting to complete some formalities before starting the work. “The bridge has been in the same condition for many years,” said a Public Works Department official who did not wish to be identified. “We are trying to construct a concrete bridge over it. Once the issues in getting permission are resolved, work will start.”