Missing flights, the route cause

Missing flights, the route cause

Missing flights, the route cause
Hopelessly trapped in a massive traffic jam on Airport Road, 400 passengers missed their flight that March afternoon. Protesting farmers had driven their tractors right into the city in droves, squeezing the only access route to the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA).

Frantic airport taxi drivers desperately looked for alternative roads. But there was none. In their design to maximise toll collection on the only route, the authorities had ensured that no second access road would be developed.

The airport access issue demanded a quick response. But that urgency evaded policy-makers until the road was jammed again, last month. A tree-fall was all that it took to reduce vehicular movement to a crawl. The frantic search for a second route commenced all over again.

Roads do exist on either side of Airport Road. But without a second entry to KIA, these are really not alternatives.

Here’s why: Airport-bound commuters who take the Outer Ring Road and get onto either Thanisandra or Hennur Main Road eventually get back onto the Airport Road through Kogilu Road or Bagaluru Main Road. Inevitably, they end up at the toll gate before the Trumpet Flyover before heading to KIA.

Citing security concerns, the Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) has been steadfast in its opposition to a second entrance to the KIA. But now, following discussions with the state government and other agencies concerned, there is apparently a change in that position.

Bypassing Airport Rd
The airport will now have an entry point at the Southwest corner of its compound. Confirmed by a top BIAL official, this would mean commuters could completely bypass the Airport Road and the Trumpet Flyover. But there is a condition: Completion of the road from Nagawara on ORR through Thanisandra.

If everything works out as planned, the alternative route will look something like this: You get onto Thanisandra Main Road from ORR, take right at its junction with Bagalur Main Road to reach Mylanahalli. The airport wall is only a few metres away from here.

BIAL has ruled out a gate here citing alignment of the second runway cutting across this path. Instead, the proposed road turns left here to reach Begur. Turning right at Begur will leave commuters at the proposed entry gate of the airport land’s southwest corner.

An access road from the gate will link it to the existing 5-km KIA Road that connects the Trumpet Flyover with the airport terminal. But the project will not happen in a jiffy. On the agenda are land acquisitions and road upgrades to connect the missing links.

Thirteen acres of land is to be acquired for a 3-km link at Mylanahalli, Chikkanahalli and Begur. This will take up Rs. 21.80 crore of the Rs. 31.50 crore earmarked for the project. Work is expected to be completed in the next six months.

Existing routes
To access KIA from beyond KR Puram, commuters have an existing road branching out of the Old Madras Road at Budigere Cross. This road passes through Mandur and Budigere to eventually join the Hoskote-Devanahalli NH648. Cabs then get onto the Airport Road and approach the Trumpet Flyover from the Northern side.

Besides commuters, the one agency that has been pushing the hardest for a viable alternative route is the traffic police department. At a Bangalore Traffic Review Action Committee (BTRAC) meeting, the traffic police had proposed their own options.

One option requires commuters to turn left on Airport Road at Sir MVIT College Road, turn right to Telecom Layout Road and take a right turn again to IVC Road before joining Ballari Road ahead of Devanahalli. Airport-bound commuters would then have to turn right and head back towards Trumpet Flyover to reach KIA. The traffic police rationale: Vehicular movement near Devanahalli is relatively less compared to Yelahanka.

But as urban commute analysts point out, a lasting solution should entirely bypass the already saturated Airport Road. This only access road gets choked during VIP movements, during the annual Krishi Melas and the biennial Air Shows at the Yelahanka Air Force Station. Besides, the Chalukya Circle steel flyover proposed by BDA threatens to unload thousands of vehicles at Hebbal.  The message is clear: For passengers desperate not to miss their flights, there is no alternative to an alternative road to KIA.