Race Course road set to be widened

Bus bay, footpath, ‘sunken’ subway to cut congestion, help commuters

Chennai: The Chennai corporation is moving ahead with the Guindy Race Course road widening project after a compensation package was agreed with Southern Railway. The Rs 2.09 crore project was forced into a limbo when the railways blocked it after the latter staked claim to the land measuring 2,220 squar metre that was ‘donated’ by the Madras Race Club (MRC) for the project. Railways officials had stated then that the donated land belonged to them and that it was leased to the MRC over a century ago.

On the cusp of being dropped, the civic body chose to give the project another go when it requested archived files from the Chennai collectorate in order to verify railways claims. However, it has now emerged that the corporation has agreed to compensate railways with tender inviting bids already floated. “The corporation has been permitted to acquire the land needed for widening. In return, they will transfer an equal measure of land and with the same value elsewhere in the city,” a senior railway official said.

Besides widening the road by a little over six metres, the project will see the corporation erect bus bays, footpaths, storm water drain, median and also a compound wall for MRC. Provision of bus bays would greatly reduce congestion caused on the stretch. Reduced road width due to encroachments, including a temple on a traffic island, contributes to traffic nightmare on the road and puts motorist and pedestrian lives in jeopardy. “Crossing over from the railway station to the bus stop is an ordeal. The vehicles coming from Five Furlong Road never stop. Almost everyday, people on foot like me run the risk of getting knocked down,” said Angel Mary, a commuter.

To facilitate safe passage of commuters crossing over from the railway station to the bus stop and vice versa, the civic body has planned a ‘sunken’ subway. “The bus bays will be located where the parking lot of MRC stood. When we build the median, it will be difficult for pedestrians to access it from the railway station. Hence the need for the subway,” said a senior corporation official.

“It will be different from the conventional subway in that it will be 2.5 m deep and around 1.5 m high above the surface. A ramp will be constructed specifically for vehicles to move and so there will be no risk to pedestrians crossing over,” the official said.

Officials added that work on the project is set to begin in a month but refused to set a time-frame for its completion. “Traffic diversions will be necessary when work is on. We will be coordinating with the traffic police and come up with a final picture on it,” an official said.

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