Steel flyover, a project sans vision

Steel flyover, a project sans vision

Urban mobility experts have branded the Rs 1,791 crore Chalukya Circle steel flyover a project without vision and a devious ploy to misuse public money. They urged the government to focus, instead, on improving infrastructure for public transport and boost the share of public spaces in the city.

An urban architect noted that the same amount could be spent on upgrading 250 city roads to world standards.  The project planners had justified it by contending that the flyover would boost connectivity to the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA). But experts questioned this rationale.

“Connectivity to the airport is pretty good. You just need to widen the road, sort out the congestion at Cauvery junction and preferably put a train in the middle. Proper signalling could sort out the problem near Windsor Manor,” explained architect Naresh Narasimhan.

By the government’s own admission, the project will necessitate axing of 812 trees. Compensating this by planting saplings elsewhere is hardly a visionary outlook, said Bengaluru Blueprint Metropolitan Action Committee (BBMAC) member V Ravichander.

Ravichander had a cheaper alternative: “Increase the lanes at Hebbal flyover, have access to Palace Grounds only through Jayamahal road side, make BMTC Vayu Vajra service run as directional buses often to three places – Cubbon Road, K R Puram and Tumakuru Road.”

Flyovers do not decongest, he reminded. “Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has on record said that his 55 flyovers in Mumbai failed to solve the traffic problem,” said Ravichander.

The share of public spaces in the city, he said, has shrunk to 5.8%. “It needs to be more than 15%. There should be legislation against shrinking any public space going forward.” The project will also eat into Palace Grounds, Turf Club and other heritage structures.

Also, the government has to let go of its car-centric mobility strategy. “There is no way this approach will fix traffic issues. We have a road-deficit infrastructure. The government must demonstrate its faith in public transport. Flyovers indicate a car mindset. It will never work,” Ravichander contended.

In a Facebook post, urban policy expert Ashwin Mahesh put the project’s scale in perspective: “To work more efficiently with limited budgets, the government proposes to spend Rs 1,800 crore to benefit fewer than 1 lakh people, whereas the same money spent on buses would benefit 30 lakh people!”

It was originally proposed that the Centre would bear 50% of the project cost. “But now they have officially declined, we have to come up with all the money!” Mahesh said.
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