Airport road saturated, can't take more load

Airport road saturated, can't take more load

NHAI, traffic police say alternative roads must be built; metro could be another solution

Airport road saturated, can't take more load

The stretch of National Highway 7, which connects the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) with the rest of Bengaluru, has almost reached saturation point and traffic bottlenecks have emerged at several points. Authorities are now looking for solutions to decongest the road and find alternative routes to the airport.

Six years ago, when the highway was opened, the passenger car per unit (PCU) value was around 11,000 on the 26-km road from Hebbal to the airport. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had estimated that the PCU would touch 25,000 by 2015. The present PCU is, however, a whopping 40,640. The PCU reached 33,785 in 2012 itself and rose to 36,126 and 37,941 in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

The NHAI estimates that the growth rate of passengers to the airport was 6.93 per cent in 2012-13, 5.02 per cent in 2013-14 and 7.11 per cent in 2014-15, apart from inter-state and city vehicles.

The Navayuga Devanahalli Toll Plaza, on an average, collects Rs 35 lakh as toll per day, most of it from airport-bound vehicles. On November 16, it collected Rs 39.45 lakh.

“The number of vehicles on this stretch is increasing every day. The ramp leading to the airport can handle the increasing traffic load for another decade. But the load on ground zero leading to the city is going up rapidly. We doubt the road will be able to take load after two to three years. This is a matter of worry. So, we are now looking for alternative routes to the airport and studying the possibility of widening the existing road,” an official said.

Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) M A Saleem acknowledged that traffic on the road was increasing rapidly and vehicular flow was heavy during morning and evening hours, and airport-bound vehicles formed a sizeable chunk. He said the traffic police were looking for alternatives and suggested that if the road from the airport to Nagavara and Bagalur was improved, the load on NH 7 would come down.

Additionally, if the road from Nagavara via Lingarajapuram or Tannery Road to Bengaluru’s inner areas is widened, connectivity could improve, he added. Traffic expert M N Sreehari said that looking at the traffic, the road should be called Asian Highway instead of National Highway.

Traffic from Yelahanka has become a major problem, but widening the road further — the highway is being extended to 67 metres — will not help, he said. The solution is to extend Namma Metro up to the airport and start mono rail, he opined. While traffic density is not as intense on the whole of NH 7 which criss-crosses the City, major bottlenecks on it on the way to the airport were at Hebbal, Byatarayanapura, Amruthahalli and the surrounding places.

An NHAI official told Deccan Herald that the work to widen the road from Esteem Mall to Hebbal was expected to begin in 2016. But the widened road would accommodate 10,000 more vehicles. Fast-paced developments around the highway will cause the PCU value to up by 5,000. So, the problem will remain the same, the official said.