CHENNAI: In January, a government order was issued for three new flyovers in the city, of which the corporation has floated tenders for two. Chennai Mayor R Priya, in her first interactions with the press after taking charge, said bridges and flyovers, as envisioned by Chief Minister MK Stalin would be among her top focus.
A senior corporation official told The New Indian Express that they were open to considering new flyovers in other parts of the city where there is a need. As the city prepares to add more flyovers, The New Indian Express spoke to experts to see what aspects should be considered before going ahead with the projects.
An expert from IIT-Madras who did not want to be named said in an urban setting, government agencies should consider the network impact of building a flyover along with the cost-benefit analysis before taking them up. The analysis includes social costs that may include fuel spend and the value for time for the public.
"When there is a flyover, there is also an induced demand (commuters who usually take another route opting to take the flyover). We have to ask what will happen to future demands and what are the measures of effectiveness- emissions, travel time, safety etc," he said.
Some others believe flyovers may not be the solution to traffic congestion in the long run. "They only intensify the congestion. Flyovers constructed in Chennai during 2000s bear testimony to this. They are cost intensive projects and buses, pedestrians, and cyclists can’t use them. Only car users, who account to about 6 per cent of the total trips, can benefit," said KP Subramanian, former professor of Urban Engineering, Anna University.
"The traffic congestion could be effectively managed by revamping the Chennai Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority and introduction of single ticket for suburban trains, MRTS, Metro rail and buses with last mile and first mile connectivity," he added.
He went on to say that the government will do well to explore other cost effective and ‘common man-oriented solutions’ before resorting to construction of flyovers. As per IRC norms, construction of flyovers warrant a minimum of 10,000 PCU (passenger car unit) as the peak hour traffic volume.
Shreya Gadepalli, urban transport expert and the managing trustee of Urban Works Institute, said focus should be on improving facilities for walking, cycling and public transport. "Chennai has over 900 km of arterial and bus route roads but only 150 km have walking facilities. Cycling is unsafe in most places. Footpaths and cycle tracks should also be maintained," she said.
"Flyovers are an expensive and temporary fix. They do not solve the problem of mobility that people need and seek. Imagine streets that are safe and fun to walk and cycle, and a world class bus service that can take you from anywhere to everywhere, reliably and comfortably. Then, people won’t need cars and two-wheelers for daily travel," she added.