Church Street makeover project stumbles upon British-era pipes

Church Street makeover project stumbles upon British-era pipes

Brand new cables, pipes with grease traps to replace clogged drains

Church Street makeover project stumbles upon British-era pipes

Bengaluru’s Church Street could eventually get a trendy makeover it deserves. But before its upgrade as a pedestrian-first lane, the project architects are confronted with a daunting challenge: A chaotic cluster of dead cables and British-era pipes intertwined with high tension live wires underneath.

Disentangling the wires has turned so tricky a task that the project could exceed the deadline by at least two months. “There is a lot of dummy infrastructure below the road, installed over the years. We are dealing with very high voltage cables too,” architect Naresh Narasimhan told DH.

The upgrade, designed by Narasimhan’s firm on the lines of TenderSURE roads, has a pedestrian-focused approach with a unique cobblestone pathway for vehicles.

“Cobblestoned roads are natural speed-calmers. When vehicles move on them, there is a noise that forces motorists to automatically slow down,” he explained.

The idea is to keep the walkers safe, and the traffic smooth and streamlined. The rejigged Church Street could potentially trigger a dramatic change in the way roads are planned and designed for walkers. “We are removing the entire storm water drain (SWD) and replacing it with RCC pipes with sand traps and filters.”

The road use pattern has dictated a shift in engineering. Flanked by over 30 pubs and restaurants, the road is already a sought-after food destination. This explains the greasy oil discharge into the SWD. “We are asking BBMP to issue a notice to all food outlets to install grease traps to collect the oil.”

Due to the complexity of the entire exercise, the project is being taken up in stretches. One side of the street from its junction with Brigade Road till the Metro station entrance has now been dug up, exposing a mangle of cables and pipes. A single lane is open for vehicular movement, although walking is a struggle.

From a sleepy residential lane in the 1920s and 1930s, Church Street had turned commercial in the 1960s. The transformation is today complete barring an old bungalow and an apartment with 90% of its space dedicated to business establishments.

The Rs 9 crore facelift is designed to totally change the way pedestrians experience the street. Once finished, the lane will be lit by 40 LED streetlights, as walkers step on footpaths with flame-finished granite. The carriageway will be strengthened with uniform lane width, complete with bay parking that can accommodate 103 two-wheelers and 32 four-wheelers.