‘Signal free’ seems to have caught the imaginations of citizens and authorities alike and govt. focus a lot on this thought while building infrastructure in the city. Instead, a proper understanding would have revealed that traffic is not the actual problem, but commute is and this would have reset the thought process to focus on mass public transport like metro and suburban rail first for the city and try reduce vehicular growth.
Anyways, the 21 crores worth Jayadeva grade separator was one of the early implementations of the signal free thought. However soon after opening in 2006, the issues in design came to the fore. Though it was a 3 level separation, we had traffic pile up on the over bridge and at grade intersection. This was because of lack of understanding of the traffic flow pattern.
On one side, we had the ORR section to be addressed coming from the Jedi Mara junction. The 2 lane traffic was reduced to one as it crossed the Jayadeva intersection overhead, while on the other direction the ORR traffic coming from BTM side would have a traffic light at the junction and again get reduced to 1 lane after the left turn. It was a sure recipe for a bottle neck.
The other major problem with signal free interchanges within the city is that they only shift the traffic problem from one junction to the other. Hence the continuous traffic coming from ORR and Marenahalli road would clog the Udupi Garden jn. This was so much that the pile up would grow onto the Jayadeva flyover itself.
Hence with the ph2 metro being built there, it is an opportunity to correct these issues. BMRCL is building a ‘double decker’ configuration to put up a long road bridge along with the metro line along the RV road - silk board stretch. The cost of this includes razing of the elevated section of the existing flyover, which should be ok even though it will bring huge disruptions while construction. It also saves on land to be acquired for the metro interchange there. Else metro would have to encroach more onto Jayadeva hospital land to build the interchange. Hence for the greater good a sacrifice is warranted.
However the basic problems faced with the traffic flow remains even with the double decker road bridge. The elevated road will need multiple up/down ramps all along the route to cater to the traffic flow at main junctions (Jayadeva/Udupi Garden). The intent of making ORR signal free needs to be primary and adequate design needs to be made around that thought.
Efficient traffic handling at the start and end of this elevated bridge needs to be done. On the silkboard side, an elaborate road interchange was planned by bmrcl, but there has been no progress on that due to cost/tender issues. There are multiple conservative alternatives which govt can look at.
So, to close on this, we rarely get an opportunity to correct mistakes. But when we get one like what we have at Jayadeva interchange, we need to make good of it and build something that will address all the problems that we have had earlier so that crores of public money is not wasted on fancy thoughts which are no good to anyone.
— Srinidhi is a transport enthusiast, associated with PRAJA...