Upgraded with a pedestrian-first approach, the new look Church Street in the city’s Central Business District completed one year on Friday. Although the road with a cobble-stone pathway has turned a model for Brigade Road and Commercial Street to emulate, grey areas of concern remain.
Walkers, particularly the youth, are flocking to the street in big numbers. After over an year of losses due to construction, business is picking up for the scores of eateries, book shops and other outlets along the road. But parking issues remain. So does vehicular traffic and garbage management.
Pedestrians have complained about overspeeding cars and motorcyclists, haphazard parking and garbage bins left uncleared for days. The one-way rule is violated with contempt with no traffic police in sight, particularly so after 11 pm.
The parking regulations, proposed when the upgraded road was inaugurated a year ago, are still nowhere in place. It was proposed that the street be closed for entry of vehicles from 12 noon to 12 midnight.
The road’s designer and architect, Naresh Narasimhan, had suggested that no vehicles be allowed after 12 noon from the Brigade Road side. This, he says, could be achieved by positioning manned boom barriers near the Starbucks outlet.
A few critics had questioned the project’s construction quality. But Narasimhan counters this: “Only four out of 1,45,000 cobblestones laid on the road had come out.” The vehicular speed limit is 10 kmph. There is no policing or enforcement. For pedestrians though, the positives have been clear: absence of obstructions, quick draining of stormwater, well-planned underground utilities that negate the need for any road-digging and good lighting. Yet, many have articulated the need for better bins and regular maintenance.
The road’s architects had suggested that the tertiary treated water from the Cubbon Park sewage treatment plant could be used to wash the road regularly. Parking could also be streamlined with about 300 paid car parking slots coming up at a new commercial complex at the street’s junction with Museum Road.
Under a Rs 9-crore upgrade, Church Street had a total makeover. The British era underground utility were completely replaced, the lanes were made uniform with granite cobblestones and the footpath rendered pedestrian-friendly. The state government recently made a budgetary announcement that this model will be replicated on Brigade Road and Commercial Street.